Exercise 4.7 – Photomontage

Brief:- Juxtaposition in photography can be as simple as placing two photos side by side. But juxtaposition can also be said to happen within the frame in still life when objects are purposefully placed together. In photomontage rougher and often amusing juxtapositions result from sticking bits of pictures together. Have a look at the work of John Heartfield and Hannah Hoch to prepare for this exercise. Heartfield’s photomontage’s are politically charged images designed to express social ills: www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield. For more advanced contemporary examples, search for Beaten Gutschow’s “S” series. Get a few old magazines or newspapers. Decide on a background picture – for example a large view of space or any place. Now add to it a figure, or at least the head and shoulders of a person. Now find some other images that you can substitute for the person’s head (for example a cabbage) or their eyes (telescopes) or mouth (a pothole). Stick them on the face. Photograph the result. As you can see, the process tends to result in bizarre combinations. But there is a deeper meaning to this process. By cutting and pasting fragments of images, you’re choosing how a picture should be made and offering an interpretation of the different subjects you choose. You’re also constructing an image in a way that would be impossible to construct in reality.

For this exercise I produced two ideas boards (seen here), neither of which I have followed through with as yet. Brexit is something which concerns me . IIa  a remainer, I value cultural diversity and I want to remain part of a wider European community. Regardless of my desire for Britain totremain as part of theEU, I feel that the current British Government is making a right pigs ear of Brexit negotiations. When I made the initial collage I had the intent of producing a mixed media image. My final two images include the handmade collage, digital editing I. Photoshop, acquired images from the internet, an uploaded photo, and the Photoshop text tool. I’ve produced two results, one of which replaces Theresa May’s face, as per the brief, and my preferred picture which doesn’t. Overall I’m pleased with the result, but I took far too long in Photoshop when turning the background white.

Original Collage


First Draft

You Will Regret This Brexit Mayhem

Final (as per brief)

You Will Regret This Brexit Mayhem

Final (preferred version)

You Will Regret This Brexit Mayhem

I believe my montage makes a strong political statement, similar in nature to Heartfield, but Hoch had more of an influence. I like that she makes use of image and text, and the business of her collages were more appropriate for my chosen theme, than Heartfield’s minimalist approach.

Finding Inspiration – Exercise 4.7 – Photomontage

This has been a fun and creative approach to finding inspiration and allowing ideas to develop. I made use of three different styles of magazine – journal, gardening, lifestyle – and added to this with newspaper cuttings.

Following the reviews which I have just completed of Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield, I can see how I can create my montages in similar styles.

The first idea relating to climate change will be in the style of Heartfield, political, topical, a dominant character, more minimalist than the style of Hoch.


My photomontage which emulates Hoch will be far more busy and explore the underlying feelings and external symptoms of eating disorders.


Both of these ideas break away from the brief slightly, but this style of art has become increasingly important to me as I develop as a photographer. There is potential for me to develop as a mixed media artist, yes it’s the early stage of exploration, but I don’t have to limit my creativity.

Of course I will follow the brief as well, and Brexit is going to be my theme.

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: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield/salute_zm.html (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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_H%C3%B6ch (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: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/runs.htm (accessed on 19/10/2018)