1921 1923 1927

“He [Heartfield] now had to employ his increasingly cunning desing skills to make the ‘wallflower that nobody took notice of, the dust jacket, [as Lilly Becher, onetime editor of the Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung, later put it], perform two potentially conflicting tasks. It should operate as an alluring wrapper that would attract buyers and, at best, earn the volume a spot in the bookseller’s show window, the publishing world’s most important stage. It should also function as a political poster, impressing didactic points on sympathetic and unsympathetic customers alike, even those who never glimpsed the book’s contents. On his success rested the press’s very identity and survival.” 

Erwin Piscator Stage Design By John Heartfield. Projects, Sets, & Costumes For The German Theatre, 1927

In 1924, he exhibits his first contemporary photomontage, “After Ten Years – Fathers and Sons,” in the window of the Malik book shop in Berlin. The montage is Heartfield’s response to the tenth anniversary of World War I.

Beginning in 1927, Heartfield becomes a set designer for the Erwin Piscator theatre, Theater am Nollendorfplatz His Erwin Piscator stage design is simple yet groundbreaking. Heartfield believed the stage design and costumes must not take attention away from the actors and the action in the play.

With George Grosz, Rudolf Schlicter, and Erwin Piscator, Heartfield founds the Rote Grüppe (Red Group) in Berlin.

erwin piscator stage design by John Heartfield

John Heartfield created Erwin Piscator stage design for Theater am Nollendorfplatz (Theater at Nollendorfplatz).

George Grosz, Heartfield's Contemporary and Colleague

The Dada genius, George Grosz, was John Heartfield colleague and lifetime friend.

John Heartfield Photomontage Fathers and Sons, Weimar Republic, 1924

John Heartfield Photomontage Fathers and Sons recalls the 10th anniversity of World War I

Professor John J Heartfield is John Heartfield’s paternal grandson. He gives live interactive presentations around the world that focus on his grandfather’s life and work and modern political art. Please write to him to request his presence at your event or ask any question. He is always pleased to hear from exhibition visitors.

Erwin Piscator stage design by John Heartfield grandson, John Heartfield, Curator Official John Heartfield Exhibition