Höch’s practice matured in Weimar-era Berlin, where artists and progressives chafed rebelliously against the increasingly conservative, restrictive government. In part, her views aligned with the Dadaists: a group of artists intent on critiquing both the art establishment and political authority. They made work that rejected formal artistic concerns and openly lampooned the European leaders floundering in post–World War I chaos. But even in the Dadaists’ anarchic approach, Höch recognized limitations. Her male Dada counterparts were misogynistic and looked down on art forms that foregrounded color and pattern, referenced traditional “women’s work,” or implied personal narrative.
In her own practice, Höch eschewed constraints in favor of art that combined the political and the personal, the conceptual and the formal. “I would like to do away with the firm boundaries that we human beings so self-assuredly are inclined to erect around everything that is accessible to us,” she wrote in 1929, in the foreword to the catalogue for her first solo exhibition at the Kunstzaal De Bron, in The Hague. She found freedom from society’s limiting views by employing fantasy, or assuming the perspectives of non-human creatures and objects. “Most of all I would like to depict the world as a bee sees it, then tomorrow as the moon sees it, and then, as many other creatures see it,” she continued. “I am, however, a human being, and can use my fantasy, bound as I am, as a bridge.”
In her 1919–20 magnum opus Cut with the Dada Kitchen Knife through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany, Höch revealed her ability to engage in Dadaist political critique while simultaneously poking fun at her male counterparts’ machismo and myopic bravura. Across the large-scale collage work, old- and new-guard politicians clash in a chaotic tornado of machines, Dada slogans, and the heads of her male colleagues, which she mischievously affixed to female bodies. More personally, she boldly explored gender roles, sexual fluidity, and mating rituals in series like “Liebe (Love)” (1931), where male and female body parts fuse, and traditional gender roles are obscured and eradicated.