Hannah Höch, Great Artists. Video on YouTube from ArtNature.
“Most of our male colleagues continued for a long while to look upon us as charming and gifted amateurs, denying us implicitly any real professional status”
Hannah Höch (1889 – 1978)
From being the only woman associated with the Berlin Dada movement to evolving her craft for more than half a decade, Hannah Höch created photomontages that commented on politics, gender roles and popular culture.
Born in Gotha Germany, Höch began her studies at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1912. Although her training was interrupted by the outbreak of World War 1, in 1915 she returned to the school to focus her artistry in painting and graphic design.
In 1915, Höch met and started dating Austrian artist Raoul Hausmann. It was thought that he introduced her to the tight circle of artists who formed the Berlin Dada movement. In response to political tensions of World War 1, Dadaism rejected capitalism and instead leant into whimsy and satire through art. Whilst being surrounded by other Dada artists, Höch created her most recognisable work as one of the pioneers of photomontage.
Höch would finely deconstruct and re-appropriate images from mass-produced media, fashion magazines and science journals as a way of critiquing social norms and the Weimar Republic (the German government after WW1) as seen in Heads of State, 1918-1920.
During WW2, Höch moved away from socio-political commentary, instead choosing to focus on surrealism. Naturalistic components converged with industrial imagery that evoked a dream-like world, Synthetic Flowers [Propeller Thistles], 1952. Towards the end of her career she took a retrospective look back, creating work that unpicks the definition of what was expected from a glamorous woman, Degenerate, 1969.
What makes Hannah Höch notable is that throughout her career she rejects the idea of the “modern woman” while having to defend her legitimacy among her male-counterparts. From Made for a Party, 1936 to Grotesque, 1963 her splicing and inverting of the beauty ideals is a feminist act which fits the conversations of today.
By Gabrielle Kynoch
“I have always tried to exploit the photography. I use it like colour, or as the poet uses the word.”
Hannah Höch, Cut with the Kitchen Knife—Dada and political chaos, Berlin in 1919. A conversation with Dr. Juliana Kreinik, Dr. Steven Zucker, and Dr. Beth Harris. Video on YouTube from Smarthistory.