“I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process..”
John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld) is Herzfeld is judged as “incapable of working because of his feigned “nervous breakdown” to avoid participating in what he knew to be an immoral and foolish war,
In 1914, Heartfield’s brother, Wieland, had brought the young artist to Berlin. He introduced him to the right people in the vibrant Berlin art scene. Wieland ability to make a connection with the influential Berlin poet Else Lasker-Schüler opens doors for both brothers. Berlin is quickly becoming a raging cauldron of creative expression.
In 1915, John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld) meets and forms a friendship with the artist George Grosz. The Heartfield Grosz images the young artists create together will be some of the most innovative exciting work to come from Berlin Club Dada. The brilliant eccentric Grosz has an immediate and profound affect upon his new friend.
George Grosz helped Heartfield see that art made not in opposition to the senseless slaughter of World War I was complicit in the German propaganda machine.
Convinced his early oil paintings of landscapes have no real intrinsic value, Heartfield burns them all. Only one oil painting is known to have survived and it is part of The John J Heartfield Collection. Perhaps Heartfield (thinking of his childhood as Helmut Herzfeld) spared this painting because it resonated with his experience of being abandoned in the woods by his parents.
The “Cottage In The Woods” (“Die Hütte im Wald”), circa 1912, is shown below.