A major exhibition of prints by the renowned photomontage artist John Heartfield opens at Four Corners Gallery this Autumn. 33 of Heartfield’s scathingly satirical artworks against war and fascism will be on display, bringing his inspiring imagery to a new generation.
This set of anti-Nazi photomontage posters was recently rediscovered in its original crumbling box in the Special Collections & Archives at Liverpool John Moores University. The exhibition will also display material produced by Heartfield during his time as a refugee in England between 1938 and 1950, alongside work by contemporary artists inspired by his legacy.
A pioneer of German agitprop and an early member of the Berlin Dada group, Heartfield is known as the inventor of political photomontage. Armed with scissors, paste and acerbic wit, he used art as a political weapon. Risking his life under Hitler’s Third Reich, Heartfield subverted Nazi imagery to reveal the hypocrisy, greed and political threats of 1930s Germany.
80 years after the outbreak of World War Two, Heartfield’s work foregrounds the need for artistic agitation in challenging times. His striking photomontages offer inspiration in our own era of rising far-right politics, racism and the blurring of fact and fake news.
HEARTFIELD: ONE MAN’S WAR is a highlight of Insiders/Outsiders Festival, which celebrates the contribution of refugees from Nazi Europe to British culture. The exhibition is curated by Four Corners and Professor John Hyatt, Director of The Institute of Art and Technology, Liverpool John Moores University. Monica Bohm-Duchen, Creative Director, Insiders/Outsiders Festival said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the Insiders/Outsiders Festival includes this important exhibition. While Heartfield is a significant international figure of continuing relevance, few people realise that he came to the UK as a refugee, intent on continuing his fight against fascism on these shores.’
John Hyatt, Liverpool John Moores University said: ‘Unforgettable juxtapositions, visual collisions, biting wit, and the subverted languages of advertising, propaganda and iconography create fissures in the construction of modernity through which Heartfield shines the light of truth to shrivel and shame the occult darkness of populism, fascism and lies. These posters are as vital today as they were when Heartfield’s glue was still wet.’
Sabine Unamun, Director, Visual Arts, London, Arts Council England said: ‘We have awarded funding to Four Corners for their Heartfield/One Man’s War exhibition, to showcase the recently rediscovered prints in London for the first time, and share Heartfield’s deep belief that art should effect social change’.
HEARTFIELD : ONE MAN’S WAR
1 November 2019 – 1 February 2020,
Tues-Sat: 11.00 - 18.00, Thurs 11.00 - 20.00
Four Corners Gallery
121 Roman Road, London E2 0QN. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green, Central Line
A programme of talks, tours and workshops accompanies the exhibition.
John Heartfield, The Hand Has 5 Fingers / With 5 You Seize the Enemy! / Vote List 5 /
Communist Party!, 1928
John Heartfield, The Old Slogan in the “new” Reich: Blood and Iron, 1934
© The Heartfield Community of Heirs/DACS 2019