Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION
Hannah Höch (1889-1978)

Frau und Saturn

Details
Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Frau und Saturn
signed and dated 'H. Höch 22' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'Hannah Höch. 22. Berl.-Friedenau Büsingstr. 16. “Frau und Saturn” 1922' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
34 1/8 x 26 1/4 in. (86.6 x 66.7 cm.)
Painted in Berlin in 1922
Provenance
Hannah Höch, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners.
Literature
'Hannah Höch', in Kunstblätter der Galerie Nierendorf, no. 6, Berlin, November 1964, no. 1, p. 3 (illustrated).
H. Bergius, Das Lachen DADAs: Die Berliner Dadaisten und ihre Aktionen, Gießen, 1989, p. 136 (illustrated).
'„Töte Deinen Vater in Dir!“', in Der Spiegel, January 1990, pp. 132-133.
E. Maurer, Hannah Höch: Jenseits fester Grenzen, das malerische Werk bis 1945, Berlin, 1995, no. 15, pp. 224-225 (illustrated p. 225).
M. Makela & P. Boswell, eds., exh. cat., The Photomontages of Hannah Höch, Minneapolis, 1997, p. 11.
R. Prügel, 'Im Zeichen des Saturn: Ein Selbstporträt Hannah Höchs', in KulturGut - Aus der Forschung des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, vol. 1, 2007, pp. 14-16 (illustrated p. 14 ).
A. Spiegler, 'Lentos: Rabenmütter und Rabenbratln', in Die Presse, 22 October 2015 (detail illustrated).
A. Braun, Hannah Höch: Dadaismus und Fotomontage Nicht kleinzukriegen, 25 April 2016 (http://www.art-magazin.de/kunst/kunstgeschichte/15434-rtkl-hannah-hoech-dadaismus-und-fotomontage-nicht-kleinzukriegen; accessed 2017).
Exhibited
Berlin, Landesausstellungsgebäude am Lehrter Bahnhof, Große Berliner Kunstausstellung, May - September 1922, no. 1285 (titled 'Frau unter Saturn').
The Hague, Galerie De Bron, Hannah Höch, 1929, no. 4; this exhibition later travelled to Amsterdam, Kunstzaal van Lier.
Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Hannah Höch: Oelbilder, Collagen, November 1964 - January 1965, no. 1, p. 3 (illustrated).
Kassel, Kasseler Kunstverein, Hannah Höch: Oelbilder, Aquarelle, Collagen, Gouachen, May - June 1969, no. 2 (illustrated).
Tübingen, Kunsthalle, Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen, Gemälde, Aquarelle, February - May 1980, no. 104, p. 231 (illustrated p. 83); this exhibition later travelled to Hannover, Kunstmuseum, May - June 1980; Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum, September - October 1980; and Frankfurt, Kunstverein, December 1980 - January 1981.
Stockholm, Konstakademien, Fyra engagerade i Berlin: Käthe Kollwitz, Hannah Höch, Jeanne Mammen, February - March 1982, no. 48, p. 20 (illustrated).
Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Museum für moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur im Martin-Gropius-Bau, Hannah Höch: Ihr Werk, Ihr Leben, Ihre Freunde, November 1989 - January 1990, p. 95 (illustrated).
Dresden, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Unter anderen Umständen, July - December 1993, p. 143 (illustrated).
Murnau, Schloßmuseum, Hannah Höch: Collagen, Aquarelle, Gemälde, Gouachen, July - October 1994, n.n.
Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Der Kampf des Geschlechter: Der neue Mythos der Kunst, 1850-1930, March - May 1995, no. 27, p. 98 (illustrated).
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Hannah Höch, January - April 2004, p. 131 (illustrated).
On loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, 2004-2010.
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Künstlerpaare: Liebe, Kunst und Leidenschaft, October 2008 - February 2009, no. 57, pp. 218-220 (illustrated p. 219); this exhibition later travelled to The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, February - June 2009.
Tübingen, Kunsthalle und Künstlerbund, Hannah Höch: Werden und Vergehen, Natur und Mensch, February - March 2012, p. 50 (illustrated).
Dusseldorf, Galerie Remmert und Barth, Hannah Höch: Frau und Saturn, September - November 2013, no. 26, p. 54 (illustrated p. 55 & details illustrated on the frontispieces).
Linz, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Rabenmütter, zwischen Kraft und Krise: Mütterbilder von 1900 bis heute, October 2015 - February 2016.
Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Monster: Fantastische Bilderwelten zwischen Grauen und Komik, May - September 2015, no. 2.63, p. 291 (illustrated).
Mannheim, Kunsthalle, Hannah Höch: Revolutionärin der Kunst, April - August 2016, no. 116, p. 157 (illustrated).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

Painted in 1922, Frau und Saturn is an intimate autobiographical work by Hannah Höch, created during a period of intense turmoil and upheaval in the artist’s personal life. Focusing on a trio of otherworldly, mystical figures, the painting may be seen as a personal refection on the tumultuous romance she shared with fellow Dada artist, Raoul Hausmann, which had ended the same year as the painting’s creation. Offering a brief glimpse into Höch’s emotional and psychological state as she came to terms with the dissolution of this seven-year relationship, the painting delves into one of the most contentious subjects of the many arguments that blighted their affair – their unfulfilled wish for a child.

Höch had first met Hausmann in April 1915, while studying in the library of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin. Enchanted by his charismatic persona, she fell completely under his spell, throwing herself headlong into their relationship without restraint, despite the fact that Hausmann was already married and had a young daughter. The affair between Höch and Hausmann quickly became an all-consuming amour fou, an intense, passion-filled, stormy entanglement, filled with explosive arguments and intellectual sparring, marked by frequent separations and subsequent reconciliations, and underpinned by extraordinary creative activity. Their letters reveal the volatility of the relationship, often swinging wildly from passionate declarations of love, to vicious condemnations of each other’s ideologies. It was through Hausmann that Höch became drawn into the nexus of the Berlin avant-garde, firstly through their frequent visits to Herwarth Walden’s Galerie Der Sturm, and then in her introduction to the revolutionary figures of the Berlin Dada movement. It was Hausmann who championed her art in these circles, even threatening to withdraw his own work from the First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920, when George Grosz and John Heartfeld fought to exclude Höch from the exhibition.

However, in spite of Hausmann’s unwavering support for her artistic career and passionate expressions of love, the pair frequently clashed over his unwillingness to leave his wife and commit to a monogamous relationship with Höch, an issue which took on greater significance when the artist fell pregnant with his child, first in 1916, and again in 1918. The pair had frequently expressed their mutual desire for children together, but Höch refused to have a baby with Hausmann while he remained married, an ultimatum which he reacted vehemently against. Torn between her desire to be a mother and what she believed were the untenable circumstances of her relationship with Hausmann, Höch took the difficult decision to end her pregnancy on both occasions. It is this internal conflict, this unfulfilled wish to have a child, which shapes Frau und Saturn. At the heart of the composition sits the glowing, red figure of a woman cradling a young child, an imaginary self-portrait of the artist, caught in a moment of intimacy as she touches her cheek against the baby’s head, gathering it to her chest in a warm and loving embrace. However, there is an ethereal transparency to the baby’s form, with the outlines of the woman’s shoulder and breast clearly visible through the child’s body. As such, the child appears as a phantom, a dream plucked from her imagination, whose presence indicates her intense, but unfulfilled, yearning to be a mother.

Looming over Höch’s shoulder, a menacing, scowling face emerges from the dark shadows of the background, a sharp, angular depiction of Hausmann that echoes Conrad Felixmüller’s iconic portrait of the artist from 1920. Enlarging his facial features so that he appears to dwarf the woman, the floating head captures the domineering spirit of Hausmann, who repeatedly berated Höch for her conservatism and openly criticised her bourgeois ideals. Casting her lover as Saturn in opposition to her self-portrait as the emblematic ‘Frau’ of the title, Höch appears to indicate that the responsibility for her lack of children lies solely with Hausmann. In the pantheon of the ancient gods, Saturn stands as the Roman equivalent of the Greek Titan Kronos, the violent father of the Olympian gods who, fearing disempowerment by one of his offspring, devours his own children as soon as they are born. Höch draws a parallel between Hausmann’s attitudes and actions and those of the self-destructive figure from mythology, suggesting that it was his fear of the potential loss of his personal and artistic freedom that monogamy and familial responsibilities would cause, which ultimately led Hausmann’s ego to ‘devour’ the potential for any future children together.

The intense longing and profound emotional resonance of Frau und Saturn is made all the more poignant by the circumstances which surrounded its creation. When the relationship between Hausmann and Höch finally came to an end in the summer of 1922, the break appears to have been instigated by Hausmann rather than the artist, an inversion of the usual dynamics of their relationship. He had met the painter Hedwig Mankiewitz earlier that year, and would go on to divorce his first wife and marry Hedwig shortly after the break with Höch. As such, Frau und Saturn may be seen as an expression not only of the emotional aftershocks of the breakdown of this affair, but also of the intense grief Höch felt for the child, the future, the life with Hausmann that was now lost to her. Channelling her heartbreak into her work, she imbued Frau und Saturn with a powerful sense of her pain, creating a potent expression of the overwhelming emotions that threatened to engulf her in the wake of Hausmann’s departure. The painting remained with Höch for her entire life, its constant presence on the wall of the studio in her small home on the northern outskirts of Berlin a testament to its personal importance for the artist.

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