The Czech-born "Dadasoph", Raoul Hausmann
was a founding member of Berlin Dada, and one of its
driving forces. He was inexhaustible in his artistic pursuits and
liked to try his hand at everything. He was a photomonteur,
painter, fashion designer, poet, pamphleteer, publisher, and
partner (in many senses of the word) of Hannah Höch. Everything he
did was done with enthusiasm and an often angry gallows
As was typical of a man of such
versatility, allied with a monstrous ego, Hausmann claimed to have
invented photomontage. Much of the philosophical basis for the
practice does go back to earlier artistic experiments which he was
very much part of: the early "Cabaret Voltaire" phase of Dada
shocked the Zurich public with performances of simultaneous and
phonetic poetry that were the aural equivalent of photomontage.
Juxtaposition was all.
In his article "Definition of
Photomontage", Hausmann seems to pin down its power: "…its
contrast of structure and dimension, rough against smooth, aerial
photograph against close-up, perspective against flat surface, the
utmost technical flexibility and the most lucid formal dialectics
are equally possible…The ability to manage the most striking
contrasts, to the achievement of perfect states of
equilibrium…ensures the medium a long and richly productive
span of life…"
montages were some of the most artistic of the early period of
Dada, demonstrating his somewhat wild and free personality in their
lack of inhibition. He was never a purist in any sense and often
combined media, using paint extensively in some of his best works.
But still they remained "montages" as a result of the philosophical
approach that he took to the making of art: "…it embodied
our refusal to play the part of the artist. We regarded ourselves
as engineers and our work as construction...all the arts and their
techniques needed a fundamental and revolutionary change, in order
to remain in touch with the life of their epoch."
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