<< 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 of 1964, shortly before 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 supporting every stage of Heartfield’s life and work.

Those 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 Johnny 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, the important question remains. How can it be that one of the most influential and courageous artists of the twentieth century has so little name recognition and renown?

It is the question that motivated the curator to devote his time and resources to create this tribute to his grandfather and courageous artists everywhere.

It is the question the curator of this exhibition attempts to clarify in the HIDDEN GENIUS section of The Exhibition.


Heartfield's Apartment

Photo taken following his death in 1968
John Heartfield's East German apartment on Friedrichstrasse

Final Rest

Gravestone In East Berlin
John Heartfield's grave near Bertolt Brecht's home

East German Documentation

Marriage Certificate
A East German (DDR) document dated three days after John Heartfield's death on April 26, 1968
Who Is Heartfield The Anti-Fascist antiwar artist's East Berlin home

John Heartfield's apartment, Friedrichstrasse, Berlin

Who Is Heartfield the anti-Nazi artist's grave

John Heartfield rests near the home of Bertolt Brecht

Who Is Heartfield the East German Herzfeld name change document 1968

Marriage Certificate, East Germany, April 29, 1968

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