Research about Photo-montage- John Heartfield

John Heartfield was an artist and also the pioneer who opposed the worldwide threat of fascism, use photomontages as a weapon and media to satirize the political situation, expose the aversion, horror and hypocrisy living circumstances under The Third Reich. He used scissors, paste, pen, and his wit to convey a clear message which is moral and truths to his audience in the early 19th century; he is simply described as a ‘communist artist’ or ‘anti-Nazi artist’ (The Official, 2016). The most famous for his photomontages was in the Nazi Period, many stunning and powerful mixed montage; it caused his life was always in danger as he was the number five slot on the Gestapo’s Most Wanted List (The Official, 2016).

From left to right: Image 1: Daimler, Mercedes advertisement 1926 (Source: ICONOFGRAPHICS, 2016) / Image 2: Kaloderma Shaving creme advertisement 1927 (Source: ICONOFGRAPHICS, 2016)

Ludwig Hohlwein is one of a commercial designer who influenced John Heartfield (CCTV, 2016). Hohlwein is a poster artist who has his unique style in the graphic design advertisements. Because of the Art Nouveau, his work was without ornaments and embellishments and replaced by simplification and taut lines; it provides a persuasive communication through the art. Although image was the main element in Hohlwein, he didn’t overlook of typography; He used both serif, sans-serif and gothic typefaces, matching them to the subject he depicted. His typography was always readable and grouped in a few lines, often forming a square (ICONOFGRAPHICS, 2016). About the typography in most of Heartfield’s work, he also used Sans-serif to present a clean and stability in his work.

From left to right: Image 1: John Heartfield: AIZ/VI 1930–38 3 of 8(Source: Vincent, 2016) / Image 2: John Heartfield: AIZ/VI 1930–38 1 of 8 (Source: Vincent, 2016)

In 1912, Heartfield found work as a commercial artist to designing book jackets and was infused with a passion that the purpose of art was not only to show the good side of an artist but use his abilities to serve the common good and speak for people; use art work to effect upon culture, advertising, politics, and society.

In 1917, he became a member of Berlin Club Dada and became an influential member of the German Dada movement of the early 20th century (The Official, 2016). In January of 1918, Heartfield joined the newly founded German Communist Party (KPD). It is a political threat organization which blamed the Nazis, Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich. From many of his montages, it is clear that Heartfield blamed the covetousness of capitalists during World War One, especially those that manufactured steel and munitions.

From 1930 to 1938, Heartfield worked with a political magazine AIZ, designed illustrations for publications. The AIZ was well-known and had a significant readership in Weimar-era Germany in the early nineteen thirties. After the National Socialists took control, the AIZ was published for German readers in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, and Eastern France, it helps to distribute Heartfield’s work to worldwide. Later on, Heartfield works was covered throughout the city at stage sets and book covers. Even though Heartfield worked in different kinds of media, he is best known for the satiric political montages he created during the 1930s to expose and battle the insanity of Adolf Hitler, Herman Göring, and the entire Nazi philosophy (The Official, 2016). Below are two of his most famous montages.

Adolf The Superman: Swallows Gold and spits Tin (Source: The Official, 2016)

Heartfield was ingenious at using montage to expose Hitler’s hypocrisy and greed, the nature of Nazism. It was a photomontage which combined dozens of gold with Hitler’s chest and belly. The way that he swallowed a large amount of gold and filled his entire chest has described Hitler performed a political alchemy by converted financial contributions from war investors to stir up people in his speeches. Also conveyed a satirical message that although Hitler got a huge amount of money, he still couldn’t do something useful and valuable, but brought Germany transformed into totalitarian dictatorship gradually. This piece of work shown in a very clear way without any text and it is easy to understand the message that Heartfield wanted to deliver.

Göring: Der Henker des Dritten Reichs (Source: The Official, 2016)

By aiding Adolf Hitler to seize power in 1933, Goering became the second-most powerful Nazi leader in the Third Reich (The official, 2016)

In this piece of montage, it recorded that Hitler approved Göring founded the Gestapo in 1933. Gestapo was a group of secret police who have the ‘preventive power of arrest’. At that time in Germany, tons of thousands communists, leftists, dissidents, rebels and Jews were all put in Gestapo concentration camp without legal process, where most of them have been tortured, maltreated and killed. Heartfield made Hitler to hold a massive axe and dressed with a blood-stained uniform to show that Gestapo is the most insidious and brutal National Police and murderer; what they did was wiped out all the enemies who was against Hitler and Nazis.

The components in this work are Hitler, the main role of Nazis; the blood-stain represent the people they killed and the massive axe is to show how insidious they were. In each of Heartfield work, he combined the different elements that related to that period or event to create an art work and have a reason to include in the work.

From the John Heartfield Official website that curated by his grandson, John J Heartfelt, he said that in the conversations with his grandfather, Heartfield made it clear that he never believes and encourage in violent revolution. Heartfield believes that faith in both people and truth would build a better life in the society (The Official, 2016). John Heartfield influenced me to create a political art work by combining different elements to speak for myself who is a citizen from Hong Kong. The political activities and protests that happened recently in Hong Kong has been showing that Hongkonger are more determinate to fight with China for the necromancy and the principles of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. The way we used to show our demands is hold up a protest and use a peaceful and non-violent way to express our demands, like what John Heartfelt said, he believes that faith in both people and truth would build a better life in the society.


References

CCTV Camera Pros (2016) John Heartfield and Photomontage. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.cctvcamerapros.com/John-Heartfield-Photomontage-s/385.htm

Professor H.K. Frenzel (2016) Ludwig Hohlwein. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.iconofgraphics.com/ludwig-hohlwein/

The Offical John Heartfield Exhibition and Archive (2016) John Heartfield Poster Art: AIZ Magazine Covers. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art/political-art-posters/heartfield-posters-aiz/goering-the-executioner

The Offical John Heartfield Exhibition and Archive (2016) Heartfidle’s Art: A Perspective. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art

The Offical John Heartfield Exhibition and Archive (2016) About John Heartfield’s Life. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/helmut-herzfeld-john-heartfield

The Offical John Heartfield Exhibition and Archive (2016) About John Heartfield’s Biography. Retrieved 22 Feb 2016 Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/helmut-herzfeld-john-heartfield/biography-german-artist-heartfield

Heartfield. J (1932) Adolf The Superman: Swallows Gold and spits Tin [Photograph] Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art/political-posters-sale/john-heartfield-posters-war

Heartfield. J (1933) Göring: Der Henker des Dritten Reichs [Photograph] Available: http://www.johnheartfield.com/John-Heartfield-Exhibition/john-heartfield-art/political-art-posters/heartfield-posters-aiz/goering-the-executioner

Ludwig Hohlwein (1926) Daimler, Mercedes advertisement 1926 [Photograph] Available: http://www.iconofgraphics.com/ludwig-hohlwein/

Ludwig Hohlwein (1927) Kaloderma Shaving creme advertisement 1927 [Photograph] Available: http://www.iconofgraphics.com/ludwig-hohlwein/

Vincent Borrelli (2016) John Heartfield: AIZ/VI 1930–38 1 of 8 [Photograph] Available: http://www.vincentborrelli.com/pages/books/112104/john-heartfield-david-evans/john-heartfield-aiz-vi-1930-38

Vincent Borrelli (2016) John Heartfield: AIZ/VI 1930–38 3 of 8 [Photograph] Available: http://www.vincentborrelli.com/pages/books/112104/john-heartfield-david-evans/john-heartfield-aiz-vi-1930-38

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