An important proponent of Dada in Berlin, Höch worked amongst a radical group of agitators who opposed the notion of common or shared artistic style. In the 1920s, at a time of rising social and political unrest in Germany, the Berlin Dadaists sought to negate the chaos of war and revolution through the rejection of dominant cultural and political values primarily those of the Weimar Republic. Höch, like her colleagues, was concerned with maintaining her individuality and freedom of opinion - concerns which are clearly born out in her art.
A lifelong preoccupation,
collage was also manipulated by Höch to evoke strange and fantastical worlds.
She was fascinated by the 'otherness' of flowers and frequently employed their
forms and those of the organic environment to create landscapes, such as Light
sails (1943 - 46), which were at once unexpected, enchanting and threatening.
Branded a degenerate under the Nazi regime and forced to live in exile, Höch saved from confiscation not only her own works but much material from the Dada period in Berlin.
Hannah Höch: Grotesque 1963
Hannah Höch on
Dada Photo Montages:
By composing images of differing scales and contexts, photomontage altered pictorial conventions, challenged rules of representation and, by virtue of its unsophisticated means, the assumed status of the artist as a trained specialist. Photomontage similarly had a strong propagandist force.
"Its dissolution of pictorial composition resonated with the real state of collapse in post-war Germany's social order... Among Dada artists, linear perspective implied a rationalist system, which was bound to the logical and utilitarian outlook of Western capitalism, an outlook that in their view had reduced the working classes to industrial wage slaves and produced a deadly war machine. They also viewed realism in painting as adopting a passive relationship to the world; merely copying it, not changing it. In contrast, photomontage combined the photograph's proximity to objective reality with a dynamic process of reordering which enacted, at least metaphorically, the revolutionary reordering of society."