Heartfield Stage Set Design for AUTHOR

east german theatre mutter riba mother riba david berg stage design berlin germany 1955

Heartfield Stage Set Design for David Berg, Berlin, 1955


John Heartfield East German Theatre Set

View Supermarket Color Version & Set Details
a photograph of a “supermarket” is pasted on a typographical design in John Heartfield’s 1955 East German theatre set design for David Berg’s Mutter Riba ( Mother Riba ).
Heartfield pioneered typography as an art form. His innovative use of typography appeared in all of his art from his inventive 3D wraparound book graphics to his famous anti-fascist photo montages, to his work in the East German theatre.
To create a sense of Western Culture, Heartfield relied on his astonishing visual memory of what he’d experienced in his years abroad.
Heartfield didn’t continue his prolific work with anti-fascist photo montage after World War II. Finances and politics forced him to return to East Germany after his long stay in England. The passionate nature that allowed him to face down the barbarians of Third Reich had not faded. But madmen such as Adolf Hitler or Hermann Göring, who posed an existential threat the entire world, were dead.
The East German communist state was repressive. Heartfield was interrogated in anticipation of a trial for treason against the state. He was denied admission to the East German Akademie der Künste for six years. He was denied health benefits that might have extended his life following his heart attacks. However, East Germany was not Nazi Germany. Heartfield had neither the ability nor the incentive to challenge the East German hierarchy with the kind of famous photo montages he produced against The Third Reich.
Heartfield turned to his lifelong love affair with all things theatrical to express himself. He was a lifelong friend of such famous German playwrights as Bertolt Brecht. He had worked as a set designer as early 1921. He worked in German theatre while producing his groundbreaking graphic designs for Malik-Verlag book covers. He never lost his love for theatre work even as he created the World War II photo montages he produced against fascism and The Nazi Party.
It is not widely know that, in addition to his mastery of collage, Heartfield was a brilliant graphic artist, stage set and costume designer. He put those talents to good use designing his innovative influential stage sets and costumes for the German Theatre.
For Mother Riba, Heartfield relied on his visual memory of his years in England to create a stage collage of ads, comics, and illustrations.