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Exhibition Hall in San Benito de Valladolid Opens John Heartfield's Photomontages
J. Heartfield, Come and see Germany, 1936.

VALLADOLID.- This exhibition features a wide selection of the photomontages by German artist John Heartfield (1891-1968) which were published in the periodical AIZ (Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung) between 1930 and 1938, along with a rich documentary fund of book covers, periodicals and leaflets, all of which were designed or conceived by the artist for the publishing house Malik Verlag. These exhibits were loaned by the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Spain (IVAM), which collaborated on this project.

Heartfield started as a member of the politically active Berlin Dada group, alongside his brother Wieland Herzfelde, the founder of Malik Verlag, and George Grosz. Heartfield soon became known for his work in the field of photomontage, perpetuating a long tradition of social and political satire in a new medium. Heartfield witnessed the series of crises that shook the conservative Weimar Republic until the advent of Nazism, and, through his work for the communist periodical AIZ, was a passionate critic of the political compromises and intimidation tactics that enabled Hitler to seize power. In addition to this, he fought tirelessly against Nazi propaganda and obscurantism, exposing the party’s repeated attacks on civil and individual liberties. Heartfield received threats because of his outspoken opinions; he was eventually driven to seek refuge in Prague, along with many other artists and intellectuals. Nevertheless, he continued to contribute artwork to AIZ, which changed its name to VI (Volks Illustrierte) in 1936. The invasion of Czechoslovakia by German troops in 1938 was a death-blow to the periodical, and forced Heartfield into a second exile in London.

Ever since he joined the Communist Party in 1919, Heartfield never ceased to serve the cause of the Revolution, and with the slogan “Use photography as a weapon!” placed his whole artistic output under the sign of political struggle. The talent with which he used his weapon against the Nazi regime makes him rank among the greatest caricaturists, such as Daumier, as well as among the artistic avant-garde of his time. His works have lost nothing of their evocative power, and many of them have become universal symbols of resistance to the oppressor.

This is a unique occasion to see works that, despite being well and widely known, are, paradoxically, seldom exhibited in France. This exhibition contributes to a better knowledge and understanding of this major artist, by presenting both the man, a model of a politically committed artist, and his hugely influential oeuvre.

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