Tag Archives: john heartfield

How It Happens

As we observe the ongoing disintegration of American politics into a putrescent septic field, we have been re-reading They Thought They Were Free, Milton Mayer’s grim oral history excavation of German social psychology between 1933 and 1945, in which he charts the ways in which a population slowly capitulates to genocide and depravity.

Conversation by conversation, we convince ourselves that things are not as bad as they seem. Then one day, those few who are still able to string a few coherent thoughts together come to a sudden recognition that things are in fact much worse.

An excerpt below, with images added by DP: photomontages by the brave and brilliant John Heartfield, forced into exile by the rise of the Third Reich.

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THE GERMAN OAK TREE

THE GERMAN OAK TREE

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THE HOUSE THAT HITLER BUILT

THE HOUSE THAT HITLER BUILT

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Harlequin Heads

It appears that a Picasso painting titled Harlequin’s Head has been burned in a Romanian stove; the ashes subjected to forensic analysis seeking to confirm that the pilfered Picasso has indeed been incinerated. The painting was once part of the famed Triton collection assembled by Willem Cordia, who had an eye for unusual heads.

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A buffoon character from the commedia dell’arte, Arlecchino remains a persona for all seasons. Consider for example the painting’s uncanny resemblance to a recent montage photograph juxtaposing two contemporary practitioners within the Harlequinade, a New York comedy duo known as Spitzer & Weiner:

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We recall that great master of the schnitt/kopf, John Heartfield, who advocated photographic decapitation as retribution for cold blooded murder in the streets of Berlin on May 1, 1929:

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Nowadays, there is no need for scissors, to reveal the true disposition of improbably aligned heads:

POTUS OBAMUSH

HARLEQUIN NAMED POTUS OBAMUSH

Among the other paintings presumed burned in the Romanian stove we find Lucien Freud’s Woman With Eyes Closed ….

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… a painting that brings to mind Michelangelo’s Pietà, targeted for attack in 1972 by one Laszlo Toth, a Hungarian geologist who asserted that he was Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, before knocking off a chunk of Mary’s nose.

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RISEN FROM THE DEAD

Toth was subsequently hospitalized for a two year examination of his head before eventual deportation to Australia. The sculpture was restored by a man named Deoclecio Redig de Campos, and is now protected by a sheet of bulletproof glass, similar to that employed by the below head, to protect against violence in those aforementioned oft-bloodied streets of Berlin:

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BULLETPROOF HARLEQUIN HEAD

And finally, a painting that has not yet been stolen nor burned, and one that is worthy of long contemplation, a radical unmasking from the brush of Xue Jiye:

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