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John Heartfield: Photography plus Dynamite

extended until 24|04|2022

John Heartfield (1891–1968) was one of the most innovative artists of the twentieth century. His political photomontages became icons in the fight against Nazism. Even today, they have lost none of their explosive power and continue to serve as a source of inspiration for satirical collages and memes. Heartfield assembled press and propaganda images and staged photographs and combined them with ironic quotations and his own commentaries to produce polarizing motifs that denounced the war, social inequality, and Nazism. In his own unique way he used manipulated images to reveal the truth behind the lies.

The exhibition shows the many facets of John Heartfield’s art: ranging from book cover designs to stage sets and also including political press work. The selected sheets illustrate how diverse Heartfield’s frame of reference was, from Dada to Bert Brecht, not to mention his own biography disrupted by exile.  

The juxtaposition of his work with the historic documentation shown in our permanent exhibition highlights its complexity and power in a very special way. The video installation devoted to Heartfield’s artistic personality “Wer Leidet der Schneidet/Wer Schneidet der Leidet” (2019) by Marcel Odenbach rounds off the presentation.

The exhibition is the result of a cooperation with the Berlin Academy of Arts, where Heartfield’s estate is housed. The Academy has conducted extensive research on his work and thanks to funding from the Ernst von Siemens Kunststif-tung has been able digitalize it and present it online.

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