Research for Photomontage and Collage.

We were recommended to look at the work of John Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, Herbert Bayer, El Lissitzky and Aleksandr Rodchenko.

I started with John Heartfeld who was born in Berlin in 1891 but anglesised his German name because he was so disgusted with the Nazis. He was a prolific artist and his montages were definitely political in nature. However as Sabine Kriebel says (1) his

 goal is persuasion, not indoctrination

unlike the Nazi propaganda.

I especially liked Wendy Ann Parker’s remarks about the difference between Heartfeld’s work and that of the Nazi propagandists.

Heartfield‘s montages, almost without exception, are an iteration of ―here is the problem.”Those of the Nazis, under Göbbels, declare, ―here is the solution.”(2)

He joined the communist party and produced many designs and posters for them.

Most of his work was against Hitler.

In 1930 the magazine (AIZ) published twelve of his photomontages. This included one that showed Fritz Thyssen, the owner of United Steelworks, a company that controlled more that 75 per cent of Germany’s ore reserves and employed 200,000 people. In the photomontage, Thyssen is shown working Hitler as a puppet.(3)


He had, eventually, to flee to Prague as Hitler was about to have him arrested. But Hitler continued to be angered by his work and had the Czech government ban his work. He eventually moved to East Germany and continued to work there. He also designed theatre sets presumably to pay the bills.

I found his work captivating.

I was a little familiar with Hannah Hoch’s feminist work.  I was unfamiliar with her earlier work as part of the Dada movement, . This movement which started in Zurich, Switzerland and moved to Berlin before crossing the Atlantic to the US, was concerned with  political issues and left wing politics. Hoch, as a woman, was a fairly rare species in this movement as it was dominated by men. Her work was extraordinarily detailed and interesting. A perfect example of using collage to make a political point.


Höch also helped expand the notion of what could be considered art by incorporating found elements of popular culture into “higher” art. She was one of many Dadaists to take advantage of such means, but she was both among the first, and one of the most self-consciously explicit in describing the goals and effects of doing so. (4)

Putting Hannah Hoch into Pinterest brings up an interesting selection of her work (5). I find her dolls of the Dada period quite disturbing.

She had a relationship with another extremely talented Dadaist artist. Raoul Hausmann. His work analysed the pressures of the capitalist society. Before meeting Hoch he had concentrated on his painting and poetry but together they explored the idea of photomontage.

The self-portrait montage of Hausmann of 1924 is yet another well-known piece of art and is generally referred to as The ABCD.(6)


Hoch moved away from the Dada movement as she did not especially like the exhibitionist nature of the movement. She moved to the Hague during the Nazis occupation of Germany. She returned to Berlin in 1936 but kept a low profile. She died in 1980.

Herbert Bayer was born in 1900 and died in 1985. he studied under Johannes Itten and also studied painting with Kandinsky and became a teacher at the Bauhaus. He was multitalented working as an architect, painter, typogograper and designer. He emigrated to the US in 1938 where he organised the exhibition

“Bauhaus 1919-1928” at the New York Museum of Modern Art in the very same year(7)

His work appealed to me less that the other artists I have researched so far.


I wanted to find some artists working today in Photomontage and collage and a google search came up with Wangechi Mutu. I looked up her work and read a little around who she is and what she is doing. Her work is amazing. A report in the Guardian of her exhibition “A Fantastic Journey” states:

There is no singular question at the core of Mutu’s work. The collages themselves are complex, multi-layered, explosively hued pieces in which many themes are addressed simultaneously. This work is the ultimate existential mash-up. Mutu explores the complexities of this world by asking and answering a thousand questions at once.(8)


So many artists to discover. I loved the information that Mutu had painted a collage of Fela Kuti’s mother who was a feminist, a difficult role in an African country. Fela Kuti is one of my preferred African singers. I had the great pleasure of hearing him sing last summer.


1.Kriebel, S, 2014. Revolutionary Beauty The Radical Photomontages of John Heartfield. 1st ed. California: University of California Press.

2.Wendy Ann Parker. 2011. Political photomontage: transformation, revelation, and “truth”. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

3. Spartacus Educational. 2016. John Heartfield. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

4. The Art Story. 2016. Hannah Höch Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works | The Art Story. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

5. Pinterest. 2016. Plus de 1000 idées à propos de Hannah hoch sur Pinterest | Photomontage, Collage et Stuttgart. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

6. Raoul Hausmann: The Dadaist Who Redefined the Idea of Protests. 2016. Raoul Hausmann: The Dadaist Who Redefined the Idea of Protests. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

7. Herbert Bayer Biography – Infos – Art Market. 2016. Herbert Bayer Biography – Infos – Art Market. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].

8. The Guardian. 2016. The Afrofuturism of Wangechi Mutu | World news | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 13 December 2016].


Wim Crouwel

At the age of 87 Wim Crouwel must be the doyen of Graphic Design. Born in Groningen in the Netherlands in 1928, he graduated from The Groningen Academy of Art. He never really considered himself an artist as he had worked all his life as a graphic designer. When he started in graphic design, Holland did not have any design agencies. Most of the large design work was sent outside the country. He and a couple of colleagues started Total Design. The agency won all the big Dutch contracts and were heavily supported by the Dutch Government.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 07.09.34Crowel worked in many Dutch art schools and universities but he is best known for his work for The Stedelijk Museum.    He developed a particular style for the artists’ exhibitions held there. He never used images of the work but instead tried to represent the essence of the artist typographically and with blocks of colour.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 07.15.53He is best known for his New Alphabet which he claims was never intended for use. It is almost abstract, made up of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Crowel worked within a grid system giving his work an angular aspect.

He also designed the Dutch stamps which are iconic. Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 07.10.06Other countries use images of politicians, royalty or wildlife but Crowel used his clean simple grid style on his philately.

Graphic Designers: Paul Rand (1914 – 1996 )

Rand was born in 1914, in Brooklyn, to Jewish immigrant parents(1). He was interested in art and design from a very young age. He attended several art colleges but claimed that he was a self taught designer. This was because he believed that he had not learned to create his designs in these institutions. Simplicity was important to Rand so he changed his foreign sounding Jewish name to Paul Rand.

When he started to work as a part time stock image creator, in a syndicate, publicity and advertising material was fussy and packed with words(2). It was believed that the publicity for something should tell you as much as possible about the product it was advertising. Rand was deeply influenced by what was being done in Europe at the time. His idea was that the product was one part of the story and the publicity material another. The publicity design or logo would become associated with the product in time but should be its own story.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 07.28.58

His corporate branding set benchmarks for impact and efficacy, most notably the eight-bar IBM logo (1972) and black ABCScreen Shot 2016-08-06 at 07.31.08 circle with white Herbert Bayer-like font (1962), both of which are still in use.(3)



Rand had four principals for good design(4).

  • A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.
  • The only mandate in logo design is that they be distinctive, memorable and clear
  • Presentation is key
  • Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations

In a three part interview (1 – 3) Rand explains how he worked to create his famous logos. Once he was happy with the final design he would present to the company sometimes with an explanatory brochure but often without. When he presented his final design to one company representative he was asked if he had any other examples from which the representative could choose. Rand replied that he did not because as far as he was concerned he had worked hard to produce the example he had presented and that it was his best and final design for that particular product.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 07.04.03Rand recounted the time when UPS was celebrating the 30th anniversary of his famous logo they asked him if he would like to attend. He said he would like to change the original design. They refused and the logo remained as it was. The interviewer asked what he would have liked to change. He said he never liked the fact that the shield had a pointed end. He would have preferred a rounded end but he knew this would have resembled a pocket which he did not want. Also he felt the bow should have been more angular.

Lazlo-Moly described Rand as follows(8):

He is a painter, lecturer, industrial designer, [and] advertising artist who draws his knowledge and creativeness from the resources of this country. He is an idealist and a realist, using the language of the poet and business man. He thinks in terms of need and function. He is able to analyze his problems but his fantasy is boundless.”


The Swiss info graphics designer has produced some really interesting work which can be seen on his site 

I found this one interesting as it contains a lot of information but is still not too cluttered.

Simon Middleweek is also another interesting Infographics designer. He is al all rounder in design terms but some of his info graphics are really interesting. The contain masses of information but still retain a certain simplicity like this one.

I like this info graphic but do not know who created it (I find this unbelievable that there is no indication on it)




  1. Famous Graphic Designers. 2016. Paul Rand | Biography, Designs and Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 06 August 2016].
  2. WIRED: WIRED. 2016. Paul Rand, the Visionary Who Showed Us That Design Matters | WIRED. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016]
  3. The Guardian. 2016. Everything is Design: The Work of Paul Rand review – short survey of a master | Art and design | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].
  4. The Creative Edge. 2016. 4 principles by Paul Rand that may surprise you – Designer Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].
  5. YouTube. 2016. interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 1 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].
  6. YouTube. 2016. Interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 2 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].
  7. YouTube. 2016. Interview with graphic designer, Paul Rand-Part 3 of 3 – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].
  8. Dominic Flask. 2016. Paul Rand : Design Is History. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 05 August 2016].