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collages and photomontages

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  • If he was the 'Dadasoph' of Club Dada in Berlin, Raoul Hausmann was fairly nicknamed 'Alergoon Syndeticon'. 'Syndeticon' was the brand of glue that he employed for montages, his principal method for artistic creation. The collages of Zurich Dadaist Otto van Rees inspired the artist to create his first photomontages, of which he would incessantly claim paternity as inventor along with Grosz and Heartfield. In a 1958 Courrier Dada (p. 41) he said, "I had started making compositions with newspaper clippings and posters in the summer of 1918, but I conceived the idea of the photomontage during a stay in the Baltic Sea in the village of Heidebrink on the island Usedom. In almost all of the homes hung a colored lithograph representing a grenadier guard in front of a background of barracks. To personalize this military memento, the existing head a photographic portrait of the household’s soldier had been glued. It was like lightning, I saw it instantly – we could create compositions 'entirely constructed from photo clippings'."
  • Art CriticSynthetisches Cino der Malerei, now lost, 1918 collage, is often cited as Hausmann’s first photomontage following his return from the Baltic Sea. In this self-portrait made of pieces of pictures, the overly large, open mouth seems to rebel against the old order, and the eye with a monocle acts as an apostle of the new vision of the principle of simultaneity in montage. In fact, the hypertrophied eye and mouth herald the sensory crossing of hearing and vision that will characterize the future photomontages [p. 64] of the artist. Hausmann remarks, "In my piece [...] Synthetic cinema of painting [...] I needed new materials for painting and sculpture. In practice this lead to collages and to using pre-fabricated material – newspaper reproductions, bits of cloth – [...]. Additionally, with the discovery of photomontages, I adopted a supra-realist attitude which allowed me to work with several simultaneous perspectives, as well as to superimpose objects and surfaces" [Je ne suis pas photographe / textes et documents choisis et présentés par Michel Giroud (Éditions du Chêne : Paris 1975) 29-30]. Photomontage, for Hausmann, serves as a static cinema where word, letter, photo and drawing are inseparable. For the artist, who continued to paint, photomontage was an 'anti-painting', which allowed him to analyze the function of images. It is thus not surprising that his own face appeared transplanted onto the body of the famous naïve painter pictured in Douanier Rousseau corrected by George Grosz and John Heartfield, and that, in Dada siegt, Ein bürgerliches Precisionsgehirn ruft eine Weltbewegung hervor [=Dada triumphs. A precise civil provokes a movement of world revolt], presented at the International Dada Fair of 1920, he posed as a dandy in front of an immense easel painting presenting not a painting, but a photograph.
  • In creating his montages, Raoul Hausmann innovations included using letters as visual and acoustical signs, and manipulating complex symbolic values in the spirit of Johannes Baader’s cosmogony. Also, in his last Dada self-portrait collage, the artist triumphantly holds between his teeth the letters 'A B C D', in the manner of a program. Conceived in collaboration with Baader, the covers created for the journal Der Dada are genuine typographic kaleidoscopes, depicting a new world order hidden from the ordinary eye. Several collages from 1918-1919 are scholarly compositions where, as in Baader’s mythological texts, autobiographical and social elements are combined. Some of these reveal a stratification as complex as that in Baader’s large 1920 compilation, Deutschlands Größse und Untergang or Die phantastiche Lebensgeschichte der Oberdada. Elasticum (1920), published in the blue issue of Mecano in 1922, and the cover of Der Dada, issue number 3, Das Pneuma umreist die Welt, that associate the circular forms of faces and tires, thus linking the symbols of the modern soul and the individual psyche. Shown at the 'Dadamesse', Dada Cino (1920), with its depiction of the brain, of giving birth, and of other anatomical representations, enigmatically symbolized the advent of a new Dada era.
  • Hausmann believed, in the same tradition of Schwitters, that the use of raw materials, free of any meaning, would lead to the creation of autonomous and abstract works: "We were looking in our subconscious for new processes and techniques to replace the manufacture of new masterpieces based on academic formulas", he said in the Courrier Dada (p. 41) in 1958. In fact, the artist would never abandon photomontage – founded, like sound poetry, on the principle of the deconstruction and mixing of cultural sources– and it would remain until the 1960s one of his favorite media.
  • Sophie Bernard, 'Raoul Hausmann/Photomontages', translated from the French text, published in the catalogue Dada (Editions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 472-475. The translation was part of the Press Pack, published by MNAM Centre Pompidou 2005, p. 63-64 [Courtesy MNAM Centre Pompidou].
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  • EXHIBITIONS
  • 1994 Berlinische Galerie Berlin
    'Der deutsche Spiesser ärgert sich', exhibition held at the IVAM Centre Julio González, Valencia (February 10-April 24, 1994); Musée d'Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne (May 11-July 17, 1994); Berlinische Galerie (August 12-October 12, 1994);Musée Départemental, Rochechouart (November 15-December 30, 1994).
    • [catalogue] Eva Züchner, et al. (Hrsg.), Der deutsche Spiesser ärgert sich. Raoul Hausmann 1886-1971 (Berlinischen Galerie. Museum für Moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur im Martin-Gropius-Bau : Berlin/Verlag Gerd Hatje : Ostfildern 1994). Cited: "Cat. Hausmann".
    • [abstract] There are five essays as well as an interview with Vera Broido, a friend of the artist. Züchner reconstructs Hausmann's early years, presents key figures in the development of Dada, and considers the intellectual sources that had a decisive influence on Hausmann. Nakov examines the relationship between the Berlin Dada members, Johannes Baader and Hausmann. Phillips focuses on Hausmann's phonetic poems; Chevrier discusses his photography and his exploration of photomontage after the Second World War. Michaud considers Hausmann as 'the painter and photomonteur'. Marí singles out some important themes in the artist's work; the body and the machine, the portrait, 'the fusion and confusion of light and sound'. The exhibition travelled to Valencia, Spain: IVAM Centre Julio González (10 Feb.-24 April 1994); Saint-Etienne, France: Musée d'Art Moderne (15 April-15 May 1994); Berlin: Berlinische Galerie (4 Aug.-2 Oct. 1994); Rochechouart, France: Musée Départmental d'Art Contemporain de Rochechouart (15 Nov.-30 Dec. 1994).
  • 1988 Musée départemental de Rochechouart
    13 October - 18 December 1988.
    • [catalogue] Raoul Hausmann. Collages (Centre d'étude et de documentation Raoul Hausmann, Musée départemental d'art contemporain de Rochechouart : Rochechouart 1988).
  • 1986 Musée départemental de Rochechouart
    2 October - 14 December 1986.
    • [catalogue] Raoul Hausmann 1886-1971. Collection Bernard Jordan (Musée départemental de Rochechouart : Rochechouart/Editions W : Mâcon 1986).
  • 1981 Kestner Gesellschaft Hannover
    'Raoul Hausmann, Retrospektive', held at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover (12 June-9 August 1981). The exhibition travelled to the Malmö Konsthall (December 20, 1980-March 1, 1981.
    • [catalogue] Raoul Hausmann, Retrospektive / [Redaktion der deutschen Ausgabe Gerhard Ahrens, Carl Haenlein; Übersetzungen der französischen Texte von Raoul Hausmann, Gerhard Ahrens, Uta Brandes-Erlhoff, Michael Erlhoff]. Katalog/Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover 4/1981 (Kestener-Gesellschaft : Hannover 1981).
  • 1974 Musée national d'art moderne, Paris
    22 November 1974 - 20 January 1975.
    • [catalogue] Françoise Cachin-Nora (éd.), Raoul Hausmann, autour de L'Esprit de notre temps. Assemblages, collages, photo-montages / [avec la collaboration de Claire Stoullig; texte de Raoul Hausmann (Editions des Musées nationaux : Paris 1974).
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  • SECONDARY LITERATURE
  • Hanne Bergius
    Montage und Metamechanik. Dada Berlin—Artistik von Polaritäten. Schriftenreihe Burg Giebichenstein Hochschule für Kunst und Design Halle, Band 4 (Gebr. Mann : Berlin 2000).
  • Sophie Bernard
    'Raoul Hausmann. Photomontages', in Dada / catalogue publié sous la direction de Laurent Bois à l'occasion de l'exposition Dada présentée au Centre Pompidou, Galerie 1, du 5 octobre 2005 au 9 janvier 2006 (Editions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) 472-475. The translation was part of the Press Kit, published by MNAM Centre Pompidou 2005, p. 63-64.
  • Sabine Eckmann
    Collage und Assemblage als neue Kunstgattungen DADAS (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König : Köln 1995).
  • Niels Hofheinz
    Vom paradoxen Nihilismus zur neuen Optik – Raoul Hausmann zwischen Collage, Montage und Fotografie (26 August 2003) [online].
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  • RAOUL HAUSMANN
  • Biographical
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  • IMAGE CREDITS
    banner: Raoul Hausmann [photographer anonymus]
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  • UPDATED