John Heartfield: Fighting Hitler with Art

John Heartfield

John Heartfield

I recently came across this fellow at the Tate Modern: and, swarmed as I was by pretentious modernism and meaningless symbolism, this John Heartfield seemed the only artist with a voice who spoke in a person voice together with a profound sense of history. Take a look at some of his work:

(More here.)

In short, he was a propagandist of Nazi Germany; but what was so remarkable was that he was a propagandist directed against Hitler at the time when fascist monopolies were so very great. Manipulating photomontages to show workers collapsing over the Swastika in Christ-like poses, or giving the skeletal fascist money for a spine, Heartfield revealed the intense absurdity of a lunatic so capable of subverting masses with the mere tools made available by the media. As we know, it was the latter who triumphed in the short-term; but this was the work of a single artist undeterred by the populist nationalism rallying behind Hitler.

I, for one, am quite impressed!


4 Comments on “John Heartfield: Fighting Hitler with Art”

  1. Thanks for this post. Very interesting.

  2. Madhu says:

    Fascinating….I hadn’t heard of John Heartfield before!

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