Master of Collage and Photomontage

Sandra Burchi, researcher, sociologist and feminist philosopher talks about Hannah Höch

Der sieger (il vincitore) (1927) by Höch HannahLa Galleria Nazionale


Hannah Höch is an artist known above all for her collages and photomontages.

Born in 1889 in Gotha, she began attending the Berlin School of Applied Arts in 1912.


The collage and photomontage technique, widely used in the avant-garde circles of her time and especially unequivocal in creating the poetics to overturn the formal languages of academic art – found a particular declination in the research of Hannah Hoch who, in fact, continued to make it a central expression of her research well beyond her “militancy” in the Dadaist group of Berlin which – as a woman and an artist – she found herself working in the 1920s not without difficulty.


A particular declination, on one hand since her training in applied arts granted her a particular knowledge in the use of materials and in the work of composition, on the other because her idea of criticism and subversion of languages led her to an aware and provocative use not only of the so-called “minor” arts but also of those considered “feminine”: embroidery, weaving, crochet, sewing.

Doing, the small day to day craft takes on a specific appreciation in the research of this artist.


The material execution of the work – so accurate and strict – takes on a precise meaning against overcoming the alleged superiority of an artistic work that can only be read in relation to the creative or conception genesis. In her collages, the juxtaposition not only of different materials but of traditionally distant languages defies conventions.


The photomontage, therefore, promotes a critical look at reality and dominant imaginaries.

The figures of the “new woman” are among the most recurring images of her works. Each represents a piece of that complex mechanism that, in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), aims at constructing stereotypes that risk erasing reality, real women.

The mythical gymnasts, the indigenous women photographed during ethnological expeditions, the emancipated and modern women, the divas courted by the media, are broken down and reassembled with irony and precision


A peculiar composure resides in the collages and photomontages of this artist, something profoundly original that through a use of colours that is never flat or unnecessarily violent and a composition that, even through fragmentation and decomposition, finds a sort of harmony that never renounces a classically aesthetic tension.

This does not make them less effective from a critical point of view, on the contrary their more subtle eeriness has never ceased to be abreast of the times.

Hanna Höch
Credits: Story

Voice over by Sandra Bucchi, researcher, sociologist and feminist philosopher

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