John Heartfield (Helmut Franz Joseph Herzfeld)
[Artist, b. 1891, Munich, Germany, d. 1968, Berlin.]
Use Photography as a Weapon! (Sign over the entrance to the John Heartfield room at the 1929 “Film und Foto” exhibition in Stuttgart.)
Photography is a mechanical device; photomontage is a piece of work done with the products of photography. This entire process forms one whole... If I assemble documents and juxtapose them with intelligence and skill, the effect of agitation and propaganda on the masses will be enormous.
The important man is not the artist, but the businessman who, in the marketplace and on the battlefield, holds the reins in his hands.
A photograph can, by the addition of an unimportant spot of color, become a photomontage, a work of art of a special kind.
... we used authentic shots of war, of the demobilization, of a parade of all the crowned heads of Europe, and the like. These shots brutally demonstrated the horror of war: flame thrower attacks, piles of mutilated bodies, burning cities; war films had not yet come into “fashion,” so these pictures were bound to have a more striking impact on the masses of the proletariat than a hundred lectures.
There are a lot of things that got me into working with photos. The main thing is that I saw both what was being said and not being said with photos in the newspapers… I found out how you can fool people with photos, really fool them… You can lie and tell the truth by putting the wrong title or wrong captions under them, and that’s roughly what was being done…