The typically groundbreaking typography reading "DADA ist GROSS und John ist sein Prophet" on this self-portrait of a shouting John Heartfield could easily read, "Dada is BIG (a not-so-veiled reference to German Dada giant George Grosz) and John is (his or its) prophet."
Click "VIEW PAGE" to learn about German Dada Artists such as Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, and John Heartfield.
The influence of the German Dada movement on Modern Art and Modern Culture is enormous.
Dada was born in Zürich, but it was the German Dadaists of Berlin who made the greatest impact.
John Heartfield, George Grosz, and Hannah Höch became world famous. However, only the work of Grosz and Höch grace the walls of museums such as MOMA in New York. The vast majority of Heartfield's art still resides behind the curtain of the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin.
German Dada lasted only four years (1916-1920). However, it burned as bright as a star and made its mark on painting, sculpture, typography, graphic design, and more.
Its energy and pioneering techniques have continued to influence modern artists, including musicians such as David Bowie. Bowie stated many times his admiration for Berlin Dada.
Click "VIEW PAGE" to view famous pieces of German Dada art.
Der Dada was the main publication of the Berlin Dadaists.
The journal displayed the experiments of John Heartfield, George Grosz, and Raoul Hausmann with typography and collage.
This groundbreaking catalogue was a platform for German Dadaists to articulate their political and artistic convictions.
The issues of Der Dada included wild and satirical statements. Many of these statements are signed by the Central Office of Dadaism. This indicates the German Dadaists' perception of independence from Zürich Dada.
Click "VIEW PAGE" to view the pages of Der Dada 3.
Berlin Dada & German Dada Artists Of The 20th Century
German Dada, concentrated as Dada in Berlin near the start of the Weimar Republic, ranks as one of the most revolutionary movements in the history of modern art. Art critics normally provide names for art, such as Cubism and Expressionism. In this case, it was the artists, contemptuous of art critics and what art critics considered art, who proudly proclaimed, “We are Dada.”
Explore the German Dada section of the John Heartfield Exhibition. Explore the Dada art movement of such artists as George Grosz, John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Johannes Baader, Richard Huelsenbeck, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Richter, and Max Ernst. These men and women literally revolutionized the world of modern art.
As World War I was ending, Europe was finally waking up. In Germany, as in other countries, much of the horror of trench warfare and the senseless politics of the war had been hidden from the public for years by propaganda controlled by the military.
John Heartfield had his role in distributing propaganda. He was tasked with handing out military leaflets that were spreading what he knew to be blatant lies. He promptly threw them all in the gutter.
The Dadaists of Berlin had seen what old ideas had wrought. They were primed to be blast apart the old and create something completely new. The Berlin art scene exploded. Filmmakers, photographers, and writers were exploring new and exciting techniques. The German Dada painters and collage artist were at the center of the artistic cauldron that was Berlin art during the Weimar Republic.
Berlin Dadaists shouted there were already too many paintings that depicted, in some manner, what could be captured with the lens of a camera. Instead of brushes, canvases, and pots of paints, Dadaists turned to cutting up and pasting together photos from magazines and newspapers. Rather than reflect reality, Dadaists tore reality apart. They chopped it up with scissors and pasted it back together to form something completely new. Geniuses such as George Grosz turned art sketching upside down. Rather than lovely sketches of models, Grosz drew emotions directly onto paper.
Grosz’s view of art had a life changing effect on a young artist who would become a central figure in the German Dada movement. That young artist was John Heartfield. His description of the birth of political photomontage (photo montage) is fascinating. It’s also almost as complex and challenging as a Dada work of art.
In 1967, John Heartfield, in a conversation with Bengt Dälback (Moderna Museet, Stockholm) said the following: “[…] how I got the idea of making photomontages. I’d say [..] I started making photomontages during the First World War. There are a lot of things that got me into working with photos. The main thing is that I saw both what was being said and not being said with photos in the newspapers. The most important thing for me was that I intrinsically become involved in the opposition and worked with a medium I didn’t consider to be an artistic medium, photography. [..] I found out how you can fool people with photos, really fool them. [..] You can lie and tell the truth by putting the wrong title or wrong captions under them, and that’s roundly what was being done. Photos of the war were being used to support the policy to hold out when the war had long since been settled on the Marne and the German army had already been beaten. [..]
I was a soldier from very early on. Then we pasted, I pasted, and quickly cut out a photo and then put one under another. Of course, that produced another counterpoint, a contradiction that expressed something different. That was the idea. It still wasn’t all that clear to me where it would lead to, or that it would lead me to photomontage.
The John Heartfield Exhibition’s format is designed to allow for modifications and additions. If you’ve attended an exhibition of John Heartfield’s art, please Write To The Exhibition’s Curator with your experience.