Image as Weapon
Image rights: The New York Public Library / Art Resource, NY
Seminal Dada artist John Heartfield was born Helmut Herzfeld, Anglicizing his name in 1916 in rebellion against the anti-British fervor instilled by the German government. Working closely with colleagues George Grosz, Raoul Hausmann, and Hannah Höch, Heartfield pioneered the method of photomontage, photographing collages assembled from magazines, newspapers, and other media cuttings and printing the final works in their own political Dada publications. A devoted opponent of the German government, Heartfield used art a weapon against the government’s authority and control over the mass media, often adding text excerpts to his works to make his point more directly, as in Der Sinn des Hitlergrusses: Kleiner Mann bittet um grosse Gaben. Motto: Millonen Stehen Hinter Mir! (The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little man asks for big gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind me!) (1932), in which he appropriated a Nazi slogan to suggest that the Third Reich ran not on the support of the people but the donations of millionaire industrialists.
German, 1891-1968, Berlin, Germany