new-york

John Heartfield

Kent Fine Art

This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition brings together virtually all of John Heartfield’s photomontages for the communist publication A.I.Z. (Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung). Made in the early ’30s, the works take a political stand against fascism and for communism. As Anthony Heilbut has written, they “combined surrealism and satire, merging agitprop and the avant-garde,” in the process giving “the tactics of what [Walter] Benjamin called ‘advertising, American-style’. . .a new ideological content.” As art historically fascinating and socially provocative as they are, however, they look a little ironic and even pathetic today, in view of the fact that their style is now standard fare in certain “avant-garde” quarters. Advertising has become the most intense agitprop we know, subsuming all ideology, including that of the contemporary avant-garde, which increasingly seems more like an advertisement

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