19 March 2007

Hannah Höch, Dada Artist

I can hardly believe that there are only 10 blogging days until the end of March. I've frankly liked my Women's History Month project. It has made my whole formal education look so, well, male-centric, which, let's face it, it was/is. It took this project for me to see that for what it was: incomplete.

One other note before I devote my full attention to the next fantastic woman: my extra verses for Follow the Prophet are on view here, with (what for FMH is indeed) a tiny, bitty discussion. Chime in, if you want.

When people get bent out of shape about the 'state of art today', their issues generally go directly back to Dada, a movement that was as tied up in pre-WWI angst and post war disillusionment as a movement ever could be. Dada, as we all know from the urinal-legacy of Marcel Duchamp (read more here, and here), engaged in the presentation-as-art of common things, material things, things that were drawn right out of the nitty-gritty of every-day life.

Hannah Höch's collages, made from magazine and newspaper clippings, fit easily into the Dada framework of common things. But while Duchamp's images critiqued the art establishment and its values, Höch and other Berlin-Dada artists were engaged in (often biting) social commentary. Dada was perhaps foremost an effort to expose the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie. The vulgarity of the masses, along with a sharp criticism of it, emerged in their work again and again.

No one did this better than Höch, in part because she was a woman. The absurdity and vanity of the bourgeoisie, though clearly ripe for a good parody was nothing to the way women were thought of, constructed, limited by the customs of the day. In the image I've selected, Höch has literally constructed (collaged) a woman out of images of her--the way she has been depicted in various times and places. And she's a mutant, a freak. Höch's sense was that her own culture's view of women was no better, and she wanted to show the viewer what she saw.

Höch, unlike so many of the artistic Avant-Garde, stayed in Germany, survived the war, and died there in 1978.


Dad said...

I have enjoyed all of your postings celebrating Women's History Month. Did not your history program have a course focusing on the contributions of women in art, as well as, other "minority" contributors? How about a course on all the left out artists? How would the view of art be different if all the suppossed "bad" stuff that is not selected were included? I might like it more than what is selected by the experts. I like the works of the famous women artists, Stella, Isabella, and Danielle more than most of what I have seen in art galleries. At least I look at and enjoy them more often and for longer periods of time. I also enjoyed looking at your FMH site.

Mary Ann said...

Yes, they had a class all about women, but I didn't enroll. My schedule was full of other things, and at the time I was too blind to realize such a class might be worthwhile. *sigh* Thank goodness we're only young once, huh?