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| Karel Teige, Travel Greetings (detail), 1923 – (view full image)

The Cut-and-Paste World: Recovering from War

Photomontage — work made from cut and pasted photographic images — was pioneered as a technique for vanguard art in central Europe in early 1919, and it flourished there through the end of World War II. The artists of German Dada, such as John Heartfield, Max Ernst, and Hannah Höch, responded through photomontage to the awful mechanization and fragmentation of bodies during World War I. At the same time, the war resulted in political autonomy for subject peoples in the region’s toppled empires. Thus the Polish group Blok and the Czech collective Devětsil developed constructive, even upbeat themes that turned photomontages into a form of visual poetry or popular street theater. In Travel Greetings, Devětsil leader Karel Teige pastes together a picturesque photograph of the Italian coastline, a map charting a journey through northern Italy, images of the cosmos, binoculars, and an envelope addressed to one of his colleagues: a celebration of postwar mobility across an infinite horizon.


| Hannah Höch, Heads of State, 19181920

 

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