1914 1915

“A photograph can, by the addition of an unimportant spot of color,
become a photomontage, a work of art…”
German Dada & Anti-Fascist Artist Activist John Heartfield
German Dada & Anti-Fascist Artist Activist John Heartfield

Heartfield Early Influences. His Future Changed By WWI, Berlin, & George Grosz, 1914-1915

From 1914 to 1915, John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld) has experiences that will profoundly affect the remainder of his life.

John Heartfield early influences seem to be leading up to the artistic revelations of the years 1914-1915.

At the World War I German Front, he comes face-to-face with the horror and hypocrisy of war. He politicizes the nature of his work.

In 1914, Heartfield’s brother, Wieland, brings the young artist to Berlin. He introduces him to the right people in Berlin’s vibrant art scene. An especially important new connection for the brothers is the influential poet Else Lasker-Schüler.

The artist, writers, poets, and filmmakers of Berlin were a revelation to Heartfield. It was a new art. A new way of thinking about art. A machine art that promised to sweep away the portraits and landscapes in museums.

The person who would most influence Heartfield was the brilliant eccentric young artist George Grosz.

John Heartfield met George Grosz in 1915. The meeting would change their lives and the world of modern art. Heartfield and Grosz would become great friends and greater artistic collaborators. Their friendship would last a decade.

George first encountered the Berlin Dadaists in the guise of a Dutch businessman. Grosz wore heavy white make up and lipstick to accent his impeccably starched suits. He claimed he was going into business by having crippled German veterans paint war slogans on pieces of shrapnel. After all, there were plenty of cripples and even more pieces of shrapnel. These pieces of shrapnel could then be sold as paperweights to the patriotic public.

Professor John J Heartfield is John Heartfield’s paternal grandson. Professor Heartfield presented Art & Politics, Politics & Art at the DADA WORLD FAIR in San Francisco. Please write to him about his live presentation regarding the relevance of his grandfather’s life and work to current events.

Dada Political Artist John Heartfield grandson, John Heartfield, Curator Official John Heartfield Exhibition