John Heartfield

John Heartfield (original name Helmut Herzfelde, 1891-1968) was a German painter, a graphic and scenic designer and photo montage artist. He is considered to be a pioneer at the point of intersection of art and media, and a founder of the political photo montage. In his collages Heartfield seized and captured nationalism, national socialism and civic narrow-mindedness. He belonged to the initiators of the Dada movement in Berlin and in 1918, together with his brother Wieland Herzfelde, George Grosz und Erwin Piscator, he joined the GCP (German Communist Party), which had been just founded. Both artists, the director Piscator and the publisher Herzfelde worked together on projects, which stretched from publishing activities (i.e. the foundation of the opposition magazine ›Neue Jugend‹ and the publishing house ›Malik-Verlag‹) to film and theater projects.

Heartfield perceived his artistic activity as being explicitly political work and published his photo montages in the respective contexts. From 1930-1938 he worked for the ›Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung‹ (›Workers’ Illustrated Newspaper‹), where many of his works were released. The ›Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung‹, or short AIZ, was a weekly magazine, released first between 1921 and 1933 in Berlin and from 1933 to 1938 in Prague. In 1936 the magazine was renamed to ›Die Volks-Illustrierte‹ (›The People’s Illustrated‹).

In 1933 John Heartfield fleed to Prague and from there to London in 1938. There he worked for various publications in English. He returned to German only in 1950, where he lived till his death in 1968 in the GDR.

In the exhibition you can find three issues of the ›Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung‹ and ›Die Volks-Illustrierte‹. See the Reference for ›The Reader as a Photomonteur‹.