Work and Life of John Heartfield


German artist John Heartfield is considered to be one of the most famous and revered masters of photomontage. By superimposing new layers of photos, he transformed the art of photographic collages into a powerful tool of mass communication. His work is known more widely than the work of many other members of the «Dadaism» group thanks to his active struggle against the Nazi regime. Actually, this is not his real name. John Heartfield anglicized his German name after World War I (before he was Helmut Herzfeld).

The main aim of the artist was the message enclosed in images. He achieved it by photomosaic compositions. Most of his works abound with newspaper photographs or fragments thereof. Heartfield collected all photos of political leaders of that time which he could only find, and then used in his collages with minimal art aesthetics, but with amazing precision and technicality. He believed that collage necessarily had to consist of photos with captions as text message and photographic images interact with each other as well as with other elements of the composition.

In many of his works Heartfield used printed quotes of famous Nazi personalities, sometimes deliberately emphasizing certain fragments, and sometimes presenting the said in quite a different light. Such freedom of creativity of course displeased the authorities, and under the Hitler regime, all politically oriented works of John Heartfield were banned on the territory of Germany. Only in the late 50’s the works of Heartfield have regained freedom, and even had a significant impact on the graphic designers not only of that time but also of the subsequent years.

In fact, artistic abilities of the future graphic artist revealed at an early age in difficult family circumstances. This work describes life of John Heartfield which was not easy and full of trials, and the impact of his works on society.

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