Tag Archives: photomontages

The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – Aftermath

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The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – Aftermath

After the defeat of Hitler and Nazism, Heartfield returned to Germany and lived out the rest of his days Germany and East Berlin. His life and works were commemorated on a postage stamp.

During the later years he worked closely with a variety of theater directors and in 1967 he visited London to prepare for a retrospective of his work. Unfortunately he died before this happened, but his widow completed the work for the exhibition and it was shown at the ICA in 1969. Although the Tate Modern in London did a retrospective of his work a few years ago, he remains a little known artist. Perhaps this short piece will help to put that right.

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The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – Peace and Fascism

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The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – Peace and Fascism

This is a particularly brutal piece of satire – the dove of peace is often shown dead or dying but here it is transfixed – literally – on a bayonet, representing the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s.

The League of Nations building is shown in the background. Peer closely and you will see the swastika flying from it. This shows the bitterness, felt by many that the nascent organization founded to represent the nations of the world in the aftermath of the First World War had failed in its duty. In its ineffective manner it had, in fact, encouraged the rise of Nazism and Fascism on the beleaguered continent of Europe.

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The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – The House That Hitler Built

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The Extraordinary Anti-Nazi Photomontages of John Heartfield – The House That Hitler Built

The house of cards that was bound to topple, the political system of Germany is shown here. Prescient as ever, Heartfield shows Hitler as the drummer boy at the base of the pack of cards.

At the top is the industrialist, Thyssen, showing how industry colluded with the dictator. The weight of the Nazi flag at the top is just too much for the house of cards to stand and it is seen just before it collapses. As would be the case in Europe, Nazism was built on foundations that would never last for too long – it was a political system that was bound, at some point, to collapse.

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