Hannah Höch (born in Gotha, Germany in 1889 – died in Berlin, 1978) was one of the early photomontage innovators in the Berlin Dadaist group, along with Heartfield, Grosz, and Hausmann (through whom she first became acquainted with Dadaism). She was a dedicated feminist and a firm believer in women’s rights, especially the right to birth control. Höch was bisexual, and although she and Hausmann were lovers for a time, after their break-up she had several relationships with women.
Höch’s photomontages often reflected her feminist beliefs and her sexuality, and thus were political. But she rejected the literalist approach of her Dada colleague John Heartfield, preferring instead to create composite faces, figures, and scenes that often seem violently out of scale, and fractured or fragmented even within their compositional unity. Some of her most famous pieces, like Cut With the Kitchen Knife, take satiric aim at the sexist attitudes that still prevailed in the German Weimar Republic, even among her male colleagues in the Dadaist movement.
Despite being an active and creative member of the Dada movement, Höch was better known as Hausmann’s “wife” rather than as an independent artist in her own right. However, certain critics believe that Höch’s early collage work is as original and worthy of respect as that of her male Dadaist comrades.
From 1933 to 1945, Höch lived an obscure life in Nazi Germany, remaining well out of public view, and continued to do photomontages, many of which were concealed during that time and retrieved after the Second World War. Hannah Höch remained active in making and exhibiting photomontages in Germany from after the war until her death in the late 1970s.
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