Hannah Hoch - A Photo of the Artist - Image via squarespacecom Museum works are the new cut culture work of our generation

Hannah Hoch/ Anna Therese Johanne Höch

Germany 1889 - 1978

Collage, Dada

Hannah Hoch
Anna Therese Johanne Höch
Female
Germany
1889

Prized for her pioneering collage and photomontage artworks, Hannah Höch was not only a rare female individual practicing prominently in the arts of the early twentieth century but was also consciously and successfully promoting the idea of women working much more creatively in the modern society[1]. This artist made a practice out of appropriating and rearranging images and text gathered from the mass media, usually with goals of mocking and critiquing the Weimar German Government. Inspired heavily by the avant-garde works of Pablo Picasso and her fellow Dada exponent Kurt Schwitters, Höch’s dynamic and layered style managed to fit right in with some of the greatest names in modern art history. It should also be noted that Hoch much more preferred metaphoric imagery[2] to the violent and direct techniques commonly found in her contemporary colleagues, such as the extremely confrontational approach of John Heartfield.

Hoch - Self-portrait in Mirrors, 1931 - Image via artblastcom
Hannah Hoch – Self-portrait in Mirrors, 1931 – Image via artblast.com

A Tough Youth and World War I

Höch was born Anna Therese Johanne Höch during the year of 1889 in Gotha, the fifth-largest city in Thuringia, Germany. Her tough childhood reached its unfortunate peak when young Anna was forced to start taking care of her youngest sibling Marianne despite the fact she was still going to school herself. However, this dire situation did not dishearten her as Höch managed to make ends meet both for herself and her family. In 1912, Höch began classes at the School of Applied Arts in Berlin where she soon found herself being under the guidance of the famed glass designer, Harold Bergen. When the time came to choose which medium she will pursue experience in, Anna Therese Johanne Höch decided to go with the glass design and graphic arts[3], avoiding the direction of fine arts. However, the young artist’s development was suddenly put on hold as the World War I broke out and her country placed itself in the main role of what will prove to be the biggest human conflict to that point. Höch went back to her hometown in 1914 and worked for the Red Cross for some time. A year later, she returned to school, entering the graphics class of Emil Orlik at the National Institute of the Museum of Arts and Crafts. There, Anna Therese met Raoul Hausmann, a respected member of the Berlin Dada movement. This will eventually prove to be the key friendship of Höch’s career.

Hoch - Kustige Person, 1932 - Image via sparebankstiftelsenno
Hannah Hoch – Kustige Person, 1932 – Image via sparebankstiftelsen.no

Hannah Höch and the Berlin Dada

Since 1917, Höch was a vital and regular part of the Berlin Dadaist circle. Initially, she worked in the handicrafts department of the Ullstein Verlag’s company called The Ullstein Press – here, she was in charge of designing dresses and embroidery patterns for a varied clientele. As a matter of fact, the influence of this early job and training can be easily seen in Höch’s later work that was regularly referencing dress patterns and textiles throughout its appearance[4]. However, Hannah, as she chose to call herself by that point, had a hard time with finding a significant place within the early avant-garde art in the German capital. Although many artists such as Georg Schrimpf, Franz Jung and Johannes Baader believed women should have equal creative rights as male practitioners (at least as far as talking about it goes), many authors were reluctant to accept Höch within their ranks simply because of her gender[5]. For example, Hans Richter went as far as describing all of Höch’s contributions to the Dada movement as the sandwiches, beer and coffee she managed somehow to conjure up despite the shortage of money. Of all the Dada artists in Berlin, Hoch was the only one that was pressured by her colleagues to find a real job. Höch was the lone woman among the Berlin Dada group, stranded within what everyone wanted to describe as a male creative world[6].

Among other things she did for the German Dada, Höch expanded the commonly accepted notion of what may and what may not be incorporated into a valid artwork

Museum works are the new cut culture work of our generation
Hannah Hoch – Album page, 1933 – Image via bp.com

Hannah Hoch’s Relationships

During all the years spent within the ranks of the Berlin Dada, Höch maintained a heavily strained love affair with the aforementioned Raoul Hausmann. Their relationship was quite turbulent because both of them had a bad temper, which was not helped at all by the fact Hausmann was already married and did not want to leave his wife despite Hannah constantly asking him to do so. According to the art historian Maria Makela, some altercations between the two even ended in violent episodes. Furthermore, these lovers had many conceptual fights about art and the role of women within this world. These stresses and fights culminated in the form of Höch’s The Painter, an essay written during the year of 1920 that tackled the subject of an artist who is thrown into an intense spiritual crisis when his wife asks him to do the dishes. Hannah finally left Raoul Hausmann in the year of 1922, ending the seven-year long bond that definitely had its ups and downs[7]. If nothing else, Höch and Hausmann were one of the first pioneers of the art form that would come to be known as photomontage in years to come. In 1926, she began a relationship with the Dutch writer and linguist Mathilda (‘Til’) Brugman. The two lived and worked in the Netherlands where Höch met Kurt Schwitters and Piet Mondrian, among many others. It should be noted that Hannah and Mathilda never publčicly declared their involvement as being lesbian, instead opting to define it as a private love relationship.

Hannah Höch was one of the key figures responsible for authoring the practice of collaging assorted photographic elements gathered from different sources to make a piece of art

Kitchen knife cut is a unique kind of art work
Hannah Hoch – Untitled – Image via thecreativehours.com

World War II and Hannah’s Later Years

During the year of 1935, Höch began a relationship with a businessman Kurt Matthies whom she later married. When the WWII started to set the flames of death all across the Old Continent, Hannah stayed in Berlin but kept an extremely low profile. She lived (if that can be called living) in Berlin-Heiligensee, a remote area located on the outskirts of the German capital, hiding in a small garden house. By that point, she was a notorious avant-garde artist, a feminist, an anti-government author and a publicly known lesbian – all the characteristics one would not want to have whilst living in the Third Reich. The Nazi’s censorship of art had a massive influence on Höch and her art which was deemed as being degenerate and harmful to the German society. Since then, Hoch decided to take a step back, probably because she was finally too broken from all the obstacles that were placed in front of her for the majority of her life. And even though her work was not as acclaimed after the Second World War as the case was before the rise of the Third Reich, Höch continued to produce her photomontages[8] and collages[9] and exhibit them on the international stage until the time of her death in 1978 when she took her last breath in Berlin, the city she loved the most in this world.

Besides contributing heavily to the Dadaism and, indirectly, to all the following modern movements, Höch can also be described as a key feministic figure of the previous century

New Weimar media images are museum works that reference culture
Hannah Hoch – Untitled – Image via whitechapelgallery.org

So Vital, yet Often Overlooked

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the name of Höch to be overshadowed[10] by some of the bigger artists that emerged from the early avant-garde art as this was a time when male-made artworks were much more recognized and by far outnumbered their female colleagues. However, despite this obviously stagnating her creativity by a fair amount, this occurrence only makes the work of Hannah even greater. Höch is not only responsible for pioneering some of the most important Dada and avant-garde art but is also the destination to which most feministic roads of the 20th century lead to. Her artistic criticism was a feministic milestone, a factor that weighed heavily on many aspects of gender issues. Furthermore, Hannas also provided us with interesting and evocative reflections on the industrial development and the very concepts of beauty. Ultimately, Höch was one of the most important female artists of the 20th century – if not of all art history.

References:

  1. Kamenish, P. K., Mamas of Dada: Women of the European Avant-Garde, University of South Carolina Press, 2015
  2. Höch, H., Orgel-Köhne, Kittner, A. E., Hannah Höch: Life Portrait: A Collaged Autobiography, The Green Box, 2016
  3. Höch, H., Luyken, G., Currid, B., Hannah Höch: Picture Book, The Green Box; First Edition, 2010
  4. Boswell, P., Makela, M., Lanchner, C., Höch, H., The Photomontages of Höch, Walker Art Center, Inc, 1996
  5. Hille, K., Hannah Höch, Independent Publication, 2016
  6. Anonymous, Hannah Höch, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2007
  7. Ades, D., Herrmann, D. F., Hannah Hoch, Prestel; First Edition, 2014
  8. Höch, H., Lavin, M., Cut With the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Hoch, Yale University Press; First Edition, 1993
  9. Höch, H., Höch, G. A., Hoch Collages 1889 – 1978, Stuttgart: Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, 1985
  10. Hudson, M., Hannah Hoch: The woman that art history forgot, The Telegraph, 14 Jan 2014

Featured image: Hannah Hoch – A Photo of the Artist – Image via squarespace.com
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017New Borrowed BlueSchloßmuseum Murnau, Murnau Group
2017Battle Of The Sexes.Städel Museum, FrankfurtGroup
2017[un]erwartet: Die Kunst des ZufallsKunstmuseum Stuttgart, Stuttgart Group
2017Viaje alrededor del mundoInstituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara Group
2016Hannah HöchKunsthalle Mannheim, Mannheim Solo
2016la femme visibleGalerie Natalie Seroussi, Paris Group
2016There Was A Whole Collection Made: Photography From Lester And Betty GuttmanSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL Group
2016Dada Afrika. Dialog mit dem FremdenBerlinische Galerie, BerlinGroup
2016Dadaglobe ReconstructedMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY Group
2016Cut & PasteGalerie Maïa Muller, Paris Group
2016Order & Reorder: Curate Your Own ExhibitionNational Museum of Modern Art Kyoto (MOMAK), Kyoto Group
2016Überblick 2016Galerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Group
2016Dada DifferentlyMuseum Haus Konstruktiv Zürich, Zurich Group
2016MashUp: The Birth of Modern CultureVancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC Group
2016Dadaglobe ReconstructedKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Group
2016Dada UniversalLandesmuseum Zürich, Zurich Group
2015Vorhang Auf Für Hannah HöchKunsthaus Stade, Stade Solo
2015Picasso. Registros alemanesMuseo Picasso Málaga, Málaga Group
2015Contemporary Art from GermanyMuseum of Art, Ein Harod, Ein Harod Group
2015Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933Neue Galerie New York, New York City, NY Group
2015Künstler der GalerieGalerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Group
2015Taking Up SpaceArticulate project space, Leichatdt, NSW Group
2015Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933Neue Galerie New York, New York City, NY Group
2014Hannah HöchWhitechapel Art Gallery, London Solo
2014Zwischen Dix und MuellerAurel Scheibler, Berlin Group
2014la parole est à la figurationGalerie Natalie Seroussi, Paris Group
2014WeltreiseKrasnoyarsk Museum Center, Krasnoyarsk Group
20141914 und die FolgenGalerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Group
2014Abandon the Parents in x-rummetStatens museum for kunst, Copenhagen Group
2014Mother And ChildUniversity Avenue, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Group
2014A Thousand DoorsGennadius Library, Athens Group
2014Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen und Druckgraphik des 20. JahrhundertsGalerie Remmert und Barth, DusseldorfGroup
2013Hannah Höch: Frau Und SaturnGalerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Solo
2013Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen, Gemälde, AquarelleKunstverein Centre Bagatelle e.V., Berlin Solo
2013Wien Berlin. Kunst Zweier MetropolenBerlinische Galerie, Berlin Group
2013Collage: The Alchemy of the OrdinaryMcClain Gallery, Houston, TX Group
2013Corridor Plateau IIIDREI, Cologne Group
2012Tagträume: NachtgedankenGermanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg Solo
2012Fünf Treppen zum Dach: Mine und Rose erzählen von Hannah HöchSprengel Museum Hannover, Hannover Solo
2012Hannah HöchGalerie Künstlerbund Tübingen, Tübingen Solo
2012Gnadenlos. Künstlerinnen und das KomischeKunsthalle Vogelmann, Heilbronn Group
2012Aus Dem Kabinett 23Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin Group
2012Exquisite Corpses: Drawing and TrasfigurationMuseum of Modern Art, New York City, NY Group
2012Il mar Baltico delle Avanguardie (1890-1930)Museo d´Arte Moderna di Ascona, Ascona Group
2012Women of the Avant-garde 1920-1940Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk Group
2012Überblick 2012Galerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Group
2011Hannah HöchRathaus-Galerie Reinickendorf, Berlin Solo
2011Wiedereröffnung der Neuen Galerie KasselNeue Galerie, Kassel Group
2011Ripped: The Allure of CollageHeckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY Group
2011Night Scented StockMarianne Boesky Gallery, New York City, NY Group
2011The Original Copy: Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to TodayKunsthaus Zürich, Zurich Group
2010Hannah Höch And Interpretation Of Her ArtSihtasutus Tallinna Kunstihoone Fond, Tallinn Solo
2010Another WorlsDean Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland Group
2010Amor Parvi oder Die Liebe zum KleinenKunstverein Langenhagen, LangenhagenGroup
2008Fotocollagen von Hannah Höchkunst galerie fürth, Fürth Solo
2008Die fantastische Welt der Hannah HöchGalerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Solo
2008Hannah Höch: Aller Anfang ist DADA!Museum Tinguely, Basel Solo
2007Hannah Höch: Aller Anfang ist DADABerlinische Galerie, Berlin Solo
2004Hannah HöchMuseo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid Solo
2002Hannah Hoch: CollagesAuckland Art Gallery, Auckland Solo
2000HAHNA HOECH: collageMuseum of Contemporary Art Skopje, Skopje Solo
1998Hannah Höch, Mit Pinsel, Feder und SchereGalerie Remmert und Barth, Dusseldorf Solo
1997The photomontages of Hannah HöchLos Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA Solo
1997The Photomontages of Hannah HöchMuseum of Modern Art, New York City, NY Solo
1996The photomontages of Hannah HöchWalker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN Solo
1995Hanna HöchHenie Onstad Art Centre, Høvikodden Solo
1994Hannah Hoch: CollagesNational Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON Solo
1994Hannah Höch, 1889-1978: CollagesSmart Museum of Art, Chicago, IL Solo
1994Hannah Hoch: CollagesThe University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ Solo
1993Hannah HöchPresentation House Gallery, North Vancouver, BC Solo
1993Hannah Höch: CollagesMacdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, ON Solo
1992Hannah Hoch: 1889-1978University Avenue, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON Solo
1992Hannah Höch: ColagensMusée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle, Calais Solo
1989Hannah Höch. 1889-1978.Berlinische Galerie, Berlin Solo
1984Hannah Hoch: Selected WorksL.A. Louver Gallery, Venice, CA Solo
1980Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen, Gemälde, AquarelleFrankfurter Kunstverein, FrankfurtSolo
1976Hannah HöchNeue Nationalgalerie, Berlin Solo
1976Hannah HöchMusée d´Art Moderne de la Ville de ParisSolo
1973Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen und GemäldeKunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld Solo
1971Hannah Höch: Collagen aus den Jahren 1916-1971Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Dusseldorf Solo
1969Hannah Höch: Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Collagen, GouachenKasseler Kunstverein, Kassel Solo