... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Monday, May 09, 2011

290: John Heartfield 1891-1968, Photomontages


John Heartfield is one of the most important European artists.  He works in a field that he created himself, the field of photomontage.  Through this new form of art he exercises social criticism.  Steadfastly on the side of the working class, he unmasked the forces of the Weimar Republic driving toward war; driven into exile he fought against Hitler.  The works of this great artist, which mainly appeared in the workers’ press, are regarded as classics by many, including the author of these lines”

As in the Middle Ages, so in the Third Reich
Another from the dark and complicated vaults of the bookshelves in my spare room.  John Heartfield is an aggressive and confrontational early-20th century photomontage artist; he used his art to fight the rightwing oppressions of the Weimar Republic and the Nazis.  His birth name was Helmut Herzfeld which he apparently anglicised “to criticise the rabid nationalism and anti-British sentiment prevalent in Germany during World War I” (I copied that off Wikipedia!).  Sounds like a pretty brave thing to do; side with the goodies while living in the pit of the baddies.  Respect to Herr Heartfield.

Adolf the superman, swallows gold and spouts junk

The book begins with a series of short essays about photomontage, historical relevance this and that; a range of people all discussing the same subject.  Perhaps I’ll read them.  Most of the book is just almost-page-sized b&w reproductions of the art.  Hitler better have had a self-depreciating sense of humour, or he wouldn’t have been amused.  He, his Nazis, and their appeasers, excusers and collaborators are portrayed as the snivelling, blood-lusty, genocidal, philistines they are.

Should men fall again that shares may rise?

I acquired(*) Photomontages of the Nazi Period by John Heartfield at some lost point in the past; probably from Oxfam bookshop in Lancaster.  When that shop isn’t full of the books my mum has made my dad get rid of, it often contains some real gems of arty oddness.  I’m pretty sure it’s where I got my book about Bela Lugosi and every movie he ever made.  (* Pretentious people don’t buy things; we acquire them.)

The Reichsbishop drills Christendom.
Just realised that I’m bored of myself trying to write about this book.  It’s not about the book, it’s about the fucking great, nasty, sarcastic images.  And there’s not much I can do to communicate the brilliance of them.  Just look at the bloody pictures and leave me alone.

This wasn't really supposed to be an essay; I just wanted to show you all some pictures.  Then I accidentally started writing, but going nowhere.  See, I'm still doing it...


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