JOHN HEARTFIELD ART | DADA | ANTI-FASCIST ART | THEATRICAL DESIGN

Rationalization Is On The March by John Heartfield

Heartfield’s “Rationalization Is On The March!”

A Berlin Saying by John Heartfield

Heartfield’s “A Berlin Saying”

Executioner and Justice by John Heartfield

Heartfield’s “The Executioner and Justice”

And Yet It Moves by John Heartfield

Heartfield’s “And Yet It Moves”

John Heartfield’s Art: A Persepective

George Grosz introduced the young German landscape painter John Heartfield to the artistic anarchy of Dada in 1916. The process of cutting and pasting together elements to form a brilliant cohesive image became the foundation of Heartfield art. He burned all his oil paintings. Only The Cottage In The Woods survives in the John J Heartfield Collection. This impulsive act of self-editing led Heartfield on the path to becoming one of Germany’s most important Dada and progressive artists.Heartfield is credited as founder of the art of mondern photomontage. His graphic designs for Malik-Verlag, the publishing house where he worked with his brother, Wielande Herzfelde, revolutionized book jacket covers. Heartfield’s graphic designs told “stories” from the front of the book cover to the back. His use of typography was groundbreaking. Heartfield’s Dada work, a cacophony of visual elements, evolved into his lifelong effort to have the mixed media of his art convey a clear message to his audience.
In many circles, Heartfield has been simply described as a “communist artist” or “anti-Nazi artist” or “anti-fascist artist” due to his youthful affiliation with the German Communist Party, the KPD. However, Heartfield was not alone in these political beliefs. The majority of artists and progressive intellectuals were members of the KPD. The KPD party was arguably the greatest political threat to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party. The KPD represented the idealistic communism of mostly young Germans who stood against The Nazi Party. In later years, the reality of communist governments became the nightmarish reality of their dreams of world peace and human equality. John Heartfield was almost tried for treason in East Germany when he was forced to return because of his financial and political status. He was denied membership and health benefits by the East German Academy of Art for six years. An idealistic young John Heartfield had joined a German Communist Party. He produced works of art that called for rights for workers and world peace. He could not have foreseen the nightmarish communist dictatorships that arose after World War II.
Heartfield’s artistic legacy is extraordinarily complex and far reaching beyond his political art. He is recognized as an brilliant innovator in typography, book jacket presentation, and mixed media. There is no question he is most famous for his photomontages of the Nazi Period, stunning mixed media artworks that mocked and attacked Adolf Hitler, The Third Reich, ignorance, war, and the threat of worldwide fascism. (Please click “ABOUT THIS PIECE” under montages for historical perspective and commentary).However, Heartfield must also be recognized for his groundbreaking 3-D graphic designs for books (Upton Sinclair, Kurt Tucholsky), as well his historic theater collaborations with playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator. Heartfield artistic output was as prolific as it was innovative. The art currently available in “HIS ART” is but a small collection of John Heartfield’s extensive artistic legacy. Please continue to visit the Exhibition often as many more montages, stage sets, graphic designs for the theatre, sketches, and more will constantly be added.
We did so to make it clear that Heartfield’s montages did not—like a well-told joke – simply combine picture and text in a provoking manner. For him, montage was more a symbolic form in which, apart from photos and texts, tonal values, the colors and structure of the material, the precisely calculated organization of the visual plane, and the imaginary visual space devised by means of retouching produced many levels of meaning. Heartfield is not being aestheticized. Instead, the diversity and ambivalence of his montages become obvious. Thus his works extend beyond political current events, allowing the viewer to develop his thoughts, imagination, and sensual perceptiveness. The fact that the current political trend has not faded is assured by reality itself, which tries even nowadays to live up to the satirical montages in a violent and impertinent manner.
An Essay 'On The Subject' by Peter Pachnicke and Kalus Honnef in John Heartfield (ABRAMS)
An Essay 'On The Subject' by Peter Pachnicke and Kalus Honnef in John Heartfield (ABRAMS)

The Exhibition is always expanding. 
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Curated By Heartfield's Grandson, John J Heartfield