Revolutionary Beauty: The Radical Photomontages of John Heartfield
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Revolutionary Beauty offers the first sustained study of the German artist John Heartfield’s groundbreaking political photomontages, published in the left-wing weekly Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) during the 1930s. Sabine T. Kriebel foregrounds the critical artistic practices with which Heartfield directly confronted the turbulent, ideologically charged currents of interwar Europe, exposing the cultural politics of the crucial historical moment that witnessed the consolidation of National Socialism. In this period of radicalization and mass mobilization, the medium of photomontage–the cut-and-paste assemblage of photograph and text–offered a way to deconstruct the visual world and galvanize beholders on a mass scale. Kriebel transforms our understandings of montage as a quintessentially modern practice. Central to that reconceptualization is suture, a concept integral to film theory but recruited in this book to explore the psychic operations of Heartfield’s seamlessly welded AIZ photomontages.
Revolutionary Beauty proposes that the language of sutured illusionism constitutes one of the most important and overlooked critiques of modern media, wherein a radical reassessment resides in suture. Scholars of photography, modern and contemporary art history, media studies, and European history will doubtlessly embrace this book.