Tag Archives: Hannah Höch

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!