Friday, January 14, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Hannah Höch

A female artist from an "interesting" period of history in Germany, that between the two world wars: the Weimar Republic.

Hannah Höch was born on 1 November 1889, died in 1978. She was a pioneer of photomontage. Her talents propelled her into the male Dadaist enclave - the only female in that group. She was bi-sexual in a country and age when that could have had dire consequences indeed.

This piece from Art and Culture offers a brief rundown of her career. I've added a couple of images to illustrate the works mentioned.

On June 9, 1978, an obituary appeared with the headline "On the death of Hannah Hoch, the bob-haired muse of the Men's Club." For much of her life, Hoch had been characterized as the "It Girl" of the macho Berlin art circle dominated by George Grosz, John Heartfield, Richard Huelsenbeck, and Raoul Hausmann (Hoch's onetime lover). These boys formed the Club Dada in 1918 and launched an all-out attack on German bourgeois culture. But Hoch was much more than their moll or muse. Hoch's impact on Berlin Dada was profound. She was a master practitioner of photomontage -- a technique that all the dadaists adopted. With its roots in the kitsch tradition of splicing heads from family photos onto magazine pictures of ideal soldiers or angelic women, photomontage took images and type from the popular press and combined them in ways to reveal the fissures that ran through middle-class ideology. Hoch's most famous work, "Cut with the Kitchen Knife: Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-belly Cultural Epoch of Germany" (1919), is a 3' x 4' collage bursting with images of German industry, military figures, and recreational gaieties. Amid these pictures, the word "dada" cuts like a knife, exposing the ludicrous contradictions that were Weimar.

Other works such as "Hochfinanz" (High Finance) directly critique the connection between bankers, industrialists, and the military.

Over time (and she was an active artist into the 1970s), Hoch 's work evolved from the propagandistic banner into a reflection on the politics of the self. Her views concerning women and the idea of beauty were seeds for many pieces that used mass media images to fracture canonical concepts of womanhood. Her "Ethnography Museum" series combined photos of African and Asian sculpture with photos of Western body parts in order to probe stereotypes of the "primitive" and "exotic" as opposed to the "civilized."

Hoch was a social archaeologist working in reverse. Her montages break down what we see and know, and put the fragments back together in a way that makes us question the concepts of identity, culture, and subjectivity. Hoch found the self in the Other in order to deconstruct racism, sexism, and politics. She didn't limit herself to angry anti-bourgeois messages or the macho posturing of some of the male dadaists, but expanded the scope of her work to mine the intersection between public images and private selves. And on top of all that, she did have an excellent bob.
Other good blog articles on this artist at Venetian Red Art Blog .

Hannah Höch was born on 1 November 1889 in Gotha, Germany.

Scorpio Sun probably describes her less clearly than the cluster of three planets in Libra, nextdoor. Uranus, planet of the rebel and the avant garde is conjunct Mercury and Venus in Libra, a sign ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Uranus, so closely connected to Mercury (communication) and Venus (art), well describes Hannah's chosen art style - and lifestyle.

Without a time of birth the Moon's position can't be properly established, but unless she was born around 11 PM or later Moon would have been in Aquarius - ruled by Uranus - underlining what is indicated above: the rebellious influence and avant garde style as part of her her nature. Scorpio Sun would add a certain passion and stubborn determination.

Saturn and Mars were both in meticulous Virgo. Saturn sextile (helpful) to her natal Sun; and Mars semi-sextile (mildly helpful)to the three Libra planets. Here is the discipline and drive needed to harness rebellious tendencies sufficiently for Hannah to follow a successful career in an often unfriendly environment.







DOMPTEUSE (translated: Animal Trainer)


Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the intro, T, I am always so enthralled with you selections for Fridays.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Glad it's of interest. :-)
I enjoy researching these a lot.

anyjazz said...

This is an excellent find. I had never heard of this artist, yet the work seems familiar

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Some of her photomontages do look similar to some of the other Dadaists' work in small scale I guess, until you get up close, I suppose. It's hard to see the detail and the comment being made in such a small illustration as I've used.