Akademie der Künste

John Heartfield

Fotografie plus Dynamit

Nationalism and right-wing thought again pose a genuine threat – making it all the more important to re-examine the political photomontages Heartfield created to protest war and fascism. The exhibition turns many surprising spotlights on Heartfield’s oeuvre and biography, which was deeply impacted by years in exile. It addresses his working process and an interaction of the arts – book design, theatre, photography, animation. Works and documents, some of which are shown for the first time, trace Heartfield’s complex network of relationships to Bertolt Brecht, George Grosz and Erwin Piscator. A multimedia collage by Marcel Odenbach, previously unknown sources, including film and sound recordings, and the online presentation »Kosmos Heartfield« (Heartfield’s Universe): www.johnheartfield.de are just a few of the features enhancing the exhibition.

Our experiences with fake news and with images that incite violence open new perspectives on the past: Have the formal principles used in photomontage continued? What is the significance of the material? Which steps are involved in the process? The exhibition focuses on what makes Heartfield’s work so exceptional: its effect is political andaesthetic ‒ a combination of »photography plus dynamite«.

Exhibition curators: Angela Lammert,
Rosa von der Schulenburg, Anna Schultz

The Akademie der Künste presents the exhibition from 21 March ‒ 21 June 2020, including an extensive special event programme and accompanied by a catalogue with artist statements by Heartfield’s contemporaries. The exhibition is closed until further notice.


John Heartfield: Krieg und Leichen – Die letzte Hoffnung der Reichen [War and corpses – The last hope of the rich], 1932 © The Heartfield Community of Heirs / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020. Akademie der Künste, Berlin