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PRINT September 1978

Composite Imagery and the Origins of Photomontage, Part I: The Naturalistic Strain

IN 1931, RAOUL HAUSMANN, one of the original members of the Berlin Dada Movement, gave a public lecture on the nature and history of photomontage,1 on the occasion of the official opening of Cesar Domela-Nieuwenhuis’ “Fotomontage” exhibition at the Staatliche Museen.2 In his lecture Hausmann claimed that the first “photomonteurs”—the Dadaists—started from the premise that the situation of painting after the war was much too involved with nonobjectivity and lacked any great conviction. All the arts, he said, were in need of a “fundamental, revolutionary change” in order to keep some relation with the life of their times. What was needed was a new “material” for the renovation of the forms of a fresh content. Therefore, the Dadaists gave birth to photomontage:

[The] idea of photomontage was as revolutionary as was its content, its form as incredible as the application of photography and

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