<< HEARTFIELD CHRONOLOGY - ALL YEARS1957 1958 1960 1962 1964 1968

“John Heartfield is one of the most important European artists.

He works in a field that he created himself, the field of photomontage.”

World Famous Playwright & Composer Bertolt Brecht
World Famous Playwright & Composer Bertolt Brecht

Who Is Heartfield? What Happened To Him? Why Is The Neglect Of His Art Famous? Berlin, 1968.

In late November 1964, shortly before John Heartfield traveled on a limited visa from East Germany to attend an exhibition in Czechoslovakia, he and his third wife, Gertrud, made and signed a will. Their three-page will stated that Gertrud would inherit everything after John Heartfield’s death. There was no mention of John Heartfield’s son, Tom, or his daughter, Eva. Tom had financially and emotionally supported his father throughout his life. There was also no mention of his brother, Wieland, who had been so instrumental in furthering every stage of Heartfield’s work.

The members of his family who had made it possible to John Heartfield to create art under the most dangerous conditions imaginable were completely ignored in the will Heartfield signed in East Berlin. Gertrud Heartfield later apologized to Tom Heartfield that “the state” had made it impossible to have him included in the will.

PERSONAL NOTE FROM CURATOR: It must be noted that my father, John Heartfield’s only son Tom George Heartfield, supported his father in every possible way. My father made my grandfather’s vacations to Italy possible. These vacations refreshed John and Gertrud. There’s no doubt in my mind this times of relaxation and happiness extended his life. If John Heartfield’s family outside the Iron Curtain would have received any portion of his estate, his original art would now be on permanent display in the largest museums in the world.

On April 26th, 1968, after a severe illness, John Heartfield, passes away in East Berlin at the age of seventy-six.

According to a “Marriage Certificate” issued by the GDR (East Germany) on April 29, 1968, three days after Heartfield’s death, Helmut Herzfeld had finally legalized his name to John Heartfield on August 27, 1964. This same 1968 “Marriage Certificate” documents that John Heartfield and Gertrud Fietz had been married on March 6, 1952.

Years after his death, an important question remains. How could be that a decade ago one of the most influential and courageous artists of the twentieth century had so little recognition and renown? John J Heartfield, John Heartfield’s grandson, began constructing the first online exhibition for his grandfather when he couldn’t find his name on all the major search engines. How was that possible? Heartfield was an artist who had not only changed the face of political art but was a colleague and friend who influenced many of the most important artists of the 20th century. How was it possible he didn’t appear under searches for “Dada” and “Political Art Of The 20th Century?”

It is the question that motivated the curator to devote his all time and resources to create and maintain this tribute to his grandfather and artists with courage and integrity in every country. Fortunately, after many years, change has come. Museums, exhibitions, authors, scholars, and lovers of art are sharing John Heartfield’s story and art throughout the world.

Find out more about why the curator originally called his grandfather a HIDDEN GENIUS in that section of The John Heartfield Exhibition.

Who is John Heartfield grandson, John J Heartfield, Curator Official John Heartfield Exhibition