Hannah Höch - Lady Dada

A disruptive artist

Klage (l'urlo) (1930) by Höch HannahLa Galleria Nazionale

Hanna Höch was a German Dada artist born in 1889, best known for her political collages and photomontages.

Höch was a pioneer of the artistic practice of collaging different photographic and graphic elements from different sources to make a disruptive art statement.

Her technique of reassembling visual elements belonging to others by integrating them into her own larger artistic quest, can be considered one of the earliest examples of “appropriation” as an artistic practice.

This combination of formerly unrelated images to create new meanings has been widely adopted by many Dada and Surrealist artists and later by post-modern conceptual and mix media artist (eg. sculptures, installations, video art).

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Even if she has been officially accepted by Dada movement
she struggled in receiving recognition from the other Dada members and artist community at large.

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Despite her undeniable skills, Dada peers almost didn’t accept her participation to the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920 - a key exhibition for the artistic movement and later in 1951 the American artist Robert Motherwell didn’t include her in his important study “Dada Painters and Poets”.

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Höch’s work was focus on promoting the figure of woman in modern society, addressing the gender issue and promoting the concept of the “New Woman”: an energetic, professional, and androgynous woman, who is ready to take her place as man's equal.

Themes such as androgyny and shifting gender roles contributed to create a political feminist discourse around Höch’s works - which encouraged the debate during the Weimar Republic (1919 - 1933) and still continues today.

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Despite the Berlin Dada group’s fractures in the early 1920s, Höch kept creating political critical artworks.

She was banned from exhibiting during the Nazi regime as she was accused to produce “degenerate art” and to be a “cultural Bolshevik”, nevertheless she remained in Germany during World War II, retreating to a house outside Berlin in her own form of exile continuing to make art.

In 1945, after the end of the conflict, she was allowed to showcase her artworks again.

Almost 30 years later, her significant contribution to the German avant garde artistic scene has been recognised through retrospectives in Paris and Berlin in 1976 - two years before her death.

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Höch audacious and radical combinations of pieces of images belonging to the collective imagination of the interwar period became a new artistic language that influenced, and still does, the artist community.

Hannah Höch
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