Review – John Heartfield And Hannah Hoch

John Heartfield (1891 – 1968)

Heartfield, J; 1932; The meaning of the Hitler Salute Little Man Asks for Big Gifts Copper-plate photogravureFig. 1. The Meaning of the Hitler Salute Little Man Asks for Big Gifts (1932)

Initial Thoughts – Possibly a magazine cover or a poster. Hitler is depicted as a smaller man, with the benefactor behind him being so large that he fills the full length of the frame, with only part of his head in view. He is handing over large quantities of bank notes to Hitler. Allegorical – Hitler is a small/small minded man who is heavily dependant upon the generosity of others to have his position of power (note – inital thoughts based upon the assumption that hitler was already in power in 1932 – when in fact he lost the presidential election of that year (The History Place; 1996)). The brief is asking us to consider juxtaposition within the genre of still life photography, but more importantly, the aim is for us as students to learn how to take control of the images that we produce. Photomontage is a means which we can employ to become the director of all aspects of our creative output. We can arrange elements in any manner to enable us full expression of our ideas, whatever they may be.

The Dada movement was founded as a political protest against the “rabid German nationalism and Anglophobia that developed following Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Dada artists were closely tied to the revolutionary political struggle; ‘Use photography as a weapon’ was their slogan” (Mulligan, T and Wooters, D; 2016; pp524). Heartfield was a founder member of the dadaist movement, and the term ‘photomontage’ developed from the Dadaists. Heartsfield has turned Hitlers salute into a e plea for power and the resources to obtain it. A very simple image which carries a weighty message.

Hannah Hoch (1889 – 1978)

Hoch-Cut_With_the_Kitchen_KnifeFig. 2. Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919 – 1920)

Initial thoughts – Complex collage that has made use of photo’s and clippings from many magazines and newspapers. I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of visual information, especially as it relates to an era of which I know and understand little. It makes use of people, words, scenes, charicatures and objects. Although I cannot read the image directly from screen (too much to know where to start) I can see the creative freedom one can achieve with this style of art. I do have a copy in a photography book, so I will take some time to have a look over the scene in more detail, and to read what the experts say.

Notes from Fabian Knierim in Photography the Whole Story (2012); pp194

  • Hanna Hoch the only woman artist in first Dada Fair in 1920
  • Image portrays politic and social upheaval
  • Fragments taken from the press
  • People are from politics and the arts
  • Includes representatives of the old empire and left wing revolutionists
  • The revolutionists are shown as unifying Germany
  • The women are in dynamic poses representative of movement
  • The men are static



Figure 1 Heartfield, J; 1932; The meaning of the Hitler Salute:: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts [Copper-plate photogravure]; AT: (accessed on 19/10/2018)

Figure 2 Hoch, H; 1919 – 1920; Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany [Collage]; AT: (accessed on 19/10/2018)


Knierim, F; 2012; Cut With the Kitchen Knife: Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany; IN: Hacking, J and Company, D; 2012; Photography the Whole Story; London; Thames and Hudson; pp194.

Mulligan, T and wooters, D; 2016) A History of Photography From 1839 to the Present; Cologne; Taschen GmbH

The History Place; 1996; Hitler Runs For President; Online AT: (accessed on 19/10/2018)


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