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John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuation, and the Rise of Avant-Garde Photomontage

John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuation, and the Rise of Avant-Garde Photomontage

By Andres Mario Zervigon

“Exemplary. . . . Present[s] a fascinating and complex image of Heartfield himself, as a man of volatile passion and extraordinary courage as much as of dogged, irascible pedantry. . . . Zervigón’s writing has a brisk, sachlich clarity and zips along in an easy, sometimes conversational tone that makes it highly accessible, even when he is dealing with complex concepts and material.”― History of Photography

“Zervigón’s book is far and away the most thorough and incisive treatment of the artist’s early work to date. . . . The meticulous research and original interpretation . . . will make the book a crucial resource for future scholarship on the artist, the historical avant-garde in Germany, as well as early twentieth-century photography and photomontage more broadly.”―CAA Reviews

“Zervigón’s energetic account is prodigious. . . . A nimble use of anecdotes, correspondence, diaries, and memoirs alongside other primary sources reanimates the debates, sets the scenes, remaps the mobility, chaos, and personalities surrounding Heartfield. . . . Astute and fascinating.”―Oxford Art Journal

Working in Germany between the two world wars, John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld, 1891–1968) developed an innovative method of appropriating and reusing photographs to powerful political effect. As a pioneer of modern photomontage, he sliced up mass media photos with his iconic scissors and then reassembled the fragments into compositions that utterly transformed the meaning of the originals. In John Heartfield and the Agitated Image, Andrés Mario Zervigón explores this crucial period in the life and work of a brilliant, radical artist whose desire to disclose the truth obscured by the mainstream press and imperial propaganda made him a de facto prosecutor of Germany’s visual culture.

Zervigón charts the evolution of Heartfield’s photomontage from an act of antiwar resistance into a formalized and widely disseminated political art in the Weimar Republic. Appearing on everything from campaign posters to book covers, the photomonteur’s notorious pictures challenged well-worn assumption and correspondingly walked a dangerous tightrope over the political, social, and cultural cauldron that was interwar Germany. Zervigón explains how Heartfield’s engagement with montage arose from a broadly-shared dissatisfaction with photography’s capacity to represent the modern world. The result was likely the most important combination of avant-garde art and politics in the twentieth century.

A rare look at Heartfield’s early and middle years as an artist and designer, this book provides a new understanding of photography’s role at this critical juncture in history.

Please note that Rare/Out-of-Print titles are very limited in stock.

309 pages
9 color plate, 134 half-tones
University of Chicago Press, 2012
8.5 x 11 inches
ISBN 9780226981772
Artist Monograph, Photomontage, Graphic Design 

$100.00 $100.00