Whitechaple Gallery: Hannah Höch

Hannah Höch
15 January – 23 March 2014
Galleries 1, 8 & Victor Petitgas Gallery (Gallery 9)

The Whitechapel Gallery presents the first major UK exhibition of the influential
German artist Hannah Höch (1889-1978).

Hannah Höch was an important member of the Berlin Dada movement and a pioneer
in collage. Splicing together images taken from popular magazines, illustrated
journals and fashion publications, she created a humorous and moving commentary
on society during a time of tremendous social change. Acerbic, astute and funny,
Höch established collage as a key medium for satire whilst being a master of its
poetic beauty.

Höch created some of the most radical works of the time and was admired by
contemporaries such as George Grosz, Theo van Doesburg and Kurt Schwitters, yet
she was often overlooked by traditional art history. At a time when her work has
never seemed more relevant, the exhibition puts this inspiring figure in the

Bringing together over 100 works from major international collections, the
exhibition includes collages, photomontages, watercolours and woodcuts, spanning
six decades from the 1910s to the 1970s. Highlights include major works such as
Staatshäupter (Heads of State) (1918-20) and Flucht (Flight) (1931) as well as her
innovative post-war collages.

This exhibition charts Höch’s career beginning with early works influenced by her
time working in the fashion industry to key photomontages from her Dada period,
such as Hochfinanz (High Finance) (1923), which sees notable figures collaged
together with emblems of industry in a critique of the relationship between
financiers and the military at the height of an economic crisis in Europe.

Höch explored the concept of the ‘New Woman’ in Weimar Germany, presenting
complex discussions around gender and identity in a series of both biting and
poignant collages. The exhibition includes a number of works from the series From
an Ethnographic Museum, in which Höch combines images of female bodies with
traditional masks and objects and layers of block colours, capturing the style of the
1920s avant-garde theatre and fashion.

Höch remained in Germany during World War II and retreated to a house just outside
Berlin. Entering a period of lyrical abstraction that explores the materials and
possibilities of a newly developing consumer culture, the exhibition includes her
later works, such as the Raumfahrt (Space Travel) (1956) as well as Um Einen Roten
Mund (Around a Red Mouth) (c. 1967) which joyously makes use of cut-outs from
colour-print and popular culture, incorporating red lips, petticoats and crystals.