Tag Archives: August Sander

Part 3: Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971)

The third link in the Doctor’s Dozen is the Austrian artist and writer, Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971).

Raoul Hausmann (1929) photographed by August Sander

Hausmann’s main connection with the previous subject, George Grosz, is that he was also a leader of the Berlin Dada movement. Hausmann’s experimental photographic collages, sound poetry and institutional critiques would have a profound influence on the European Avant-Garde in the aftermath of the First World War.

ABCD (Self-portrait) (1923–24) by Raoul Hausmann

As a young man, Hausmann was interested in the goals of the emerging Expressionist movement in Germany. In 1917 he was introduced to Dadaist thinking and ideas by contemporary literature such as the magazine ‘Cabaret Voltaire’. From 1918 the first Dadaist soirées, in which Hausmann and Grosz participated, took place and Hausmann went on to develop his characteristic photomontage process and printed his first ‘poster poems’ and phonetic poems.

O F F E A H B D C (1918) by Raoul Hausmann [Collection Berlinische Galerie, Berlin]
Hausmann’s extramarital romance with the renowned Dada artist Hannah Höch resulted in an explosive artistic future. It was during their location to the Baltic Sea that the idea of photomontage inspired the artists which he used to vent out his Dadaist claims.

‘Mechanical Head’ [The Spirit of Our Age] (c.1920) by Raoul Hausmann
The most well known work by Hausmann, ‘Mechanical Head’ [above] is the only extant assemblage. The notion of head is driven by the fact that everything rests within the mind and every outcome is a result of what lies within. However, the artist discards this notion and tries to pull out the reverse aspect by simply pointing out that whatever sticks to the head defines the thought process and he explains this literally by sticking the materials onto the head. It is the materiality or objectivity of the world that defines the thoughts rather than the thoughts residing within the head.

The photomontage became the technique most associated with Berlin Dada, used extensively by Hausmann and Grosz and others,  and would prove a crucial influence on the German artist Kurt Schwitters.

Das Undbild (1919) by Kurt Schwitters [Staatsgalerie Stuttgart]
Schwitters became a close friend of Hausmann and so he is the next subject for the Doctor’s Dozen.  Stay tuned!

 

Men Without Masks

There’s an extraordinary exhibition at Hauser & Wirth London (until 28 July 2018) dedicated to the German photographer August Sander. Titled Men Without Masks, the display features an extensive selection of portraits made between 1910 and 1931 representing the socio-economic landscape in the years leading up to and through the Weimar Republic.

These photographs are mesmerizing, but beyond the masterful portraiture are the subjects themselves. Who are these people? Several individuals caught my eye, such as these two in a photograph titled Bohemians:

This is a portrait of Will Bongard and Gottfried Brockmann who were associated with the Cologne Dada movement and the group of artists known as the Cologne Progressives. There are also portraits of the artists Franz Wilhelm Seiwert and Heinrich Hoerle who were also part of this group:

 

Intrigued by Sander’s photographic portraits of these four charismatic-looking men, I set about tracking down some examples of their artworks such as this painting by Hoerle:

‘Denkmal der unbekannten Prothesen’ (1930) by Heinrich Hoerle, Von der Heydt-Museum

Or this by Seiwert:

‘Selbstbildnis’ (Self-portrait) by Franz Wilhelm Seiwert (1928), Von der Heydt-Museum

Finally, here’s a work by Brockmann:

Junge mit Roller (1923)

The Cologne Progressives, founded by Gerd Arntz along with Hoerle and Seiwert, related their attitude to art to their political activism and their involvement in the the Radical Workers’ Movement. As the German sculptor Wieland Schmied has explained, they ‘sought to combine constructivism and objectivity, geometry and object, the general and the particular, avant-garde conviction and political engagement’. They are credited as being the originators of Figurative Constructivism.

Gerd Arntz’s work provides a contrast to that of his colleagues. Here’s his Between Bridges for example:

I’d like to look more closely at these artists and their works. In the meantime, here’s a selection:

‘Worker’ (Self-Portrait in Front of Trees and Chimneys) (1931) by Heinrich Hoerle, Harvard Art Museums
‘Four Men in front of Factories’ (1926) BY Franz William Seiwert, Hamburger Kunsthalle
‘Kolyma’ (1952) by Gerd Arntz