BERLIN.- Caution: Art!, one of Klaus Staecks most famous posters, surely puts his artistic standpoint in a nutshell. To him, art is political and has a mission. As a means of making the public aware of the contradictions and deficiencies of society, art should provoke, create scandals, and disturb the clandestine business of those who otherwise benefit from general inattentiveness. The natural medium for his urge to highlight societys flaws is the political poster. Since the 1970s, Staeck has designed more than three hundred of them, many well-known for their sharp-witted punch lines. For the first time ever, in this exhibition all the posters shown have been subtitled with an English translation in order to make their sarcastic humour comprehensible to an international audience.
As a photographer, Staeck works more subtly, but with similar intentions. Capturing absurd aspects of everyday life, his images unmask the dreariness behind the glossy façade of our affluent society. Besides posters and photographs, this retrospective shows a selection from his early graphic work as well as objects and installations. In addition, the Berlinische Galerie is presenting smaller samples of his work at a number of venues all over the city.
Klaus Staeck, who works in the tradition of Berlin dada and especially of John Heartfields political agitation art from the 1920s and 1930s, has been President of Berlin Academy of the Arts since 2006.
The photomontage artist John Heartfield was an exceptional pioneer who worked at the interface of art and the media. As a dogged opponent of the Nazi Regime, he often conceived remarkably clear-sighted, forceful images for the title pages of the Arbeiter Illustrierten Zeitung (AiZ).
This exhibition focuses on the political photomontages he produced between 1930 and 1938, vehemently attacking conditions in Germany while conveying a glorious picture of the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union.
The exhibition presents Heartfield as a protagonist of Berlin Dada, and also shows the legendary book covers that he designed for his brothers publishing company, Malik-Verlag.
John Heartfield, actually born in Berlin as Helmut Herzfeld in 1891, lived in exile in Prague and London from 1933 to 1950, and died in the former East Berlin in 1968.