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- In 1905 John Heartfield (born Helmut Franz Josef Herzfeld 1891) went to study at the Royal Bavarian School of Applied Arts in Munich, which at the time was Germany's center of art. In 1914, the same year that Herzfeld won first prize in the Werkbund Exhibit in Cologne for the design of a wall mural, he was conscripted into military service in World War I.
- In 1916 Helmut Herzfeld anglicized his name to 'John Heartfield', a protest against the anglophobia that took hold of Germany shortly after the English entered the war on August 4, 1914. In July 1916, Wieland Herzfelde and John Heartfield published the journal Neue Jugend, a vehicle for antiwar and pacifist views. In 1917 Heartfield helped his brother establish the Malik Verlag publishing group.
- Although Heartfield had some official work during the war (working in the Military Educational Film Service), he was moving toward an explicit rupture with the existing order. In the period following the 1917 Russian Revolution, he joined both the newly formed KPD and the Berlin Club Dada. In Heartfield's involvement with Berlin Dada, he was known as Monteurdada, not only because his preferred artistic medium was photomontage, but also because he took to wearing blue overalls (a Monteuranzug in German) in alliance with the industrial laborer. He coedited the satirical periodical Jedermann sein eigner Fussball, which was banned after the first edition because of its inflammatory content. Together with Herzfelde and Grosz, Heartfield founded the satirical political magazine Die Pleite, a combination of socially critical reportage and caricature (usually the hand of Grosz). In 1919 Heartfield also befriended Otto Dix. In April 1920 Heartfield and Grosz published an article called 'Der Kunstlump' in Der Gegner, which triggered heated discussions about the roles of fine art and proletarian art. Heartfield helped organize the First International Dada Fair with Grosz and Raoul Hausmann that opened on July 1, 1920, for which Heartfield designed the four-page catalogue.
- After his involvement with Berlin Dada, Heartfield designed book jackets, typography, and layouts for left-wing publishers and worked for the German Communist Party as an editor and designer. In 1930 he began to produce political photomontages regularly for the popular procommunist journal Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung, generating his anti-Nazi montages in exile in Prague after 1933. When the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, Heartfield fled to England. He joined his brother in the German Democratic Republic in 1951. John Heartfield died on April 26, 1968 in Berlin (GDR).
- TEXT CREDITS
More extensively with Sabine T. Kriebel, 'John Heartfield', published in Leah Dickerman (ed.), Dada. Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (National Gallery of Art : Washington DC 2005) 472-473 and online available at Dada biographies: John Heartfield, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The article is translated in French and published in Dada / Catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Le Bon (Éditions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 478-481.
- IMAGE CREDITS
Self-portrait John Heartfield, 1920.
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