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Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE LANDSCAPE OF A MIND: A PRIVATE COLLECTOR'S SURREAL VISION
Hannah Höch (1889-1978)

Er und sein Milieu

Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
Er und sein Milieu
signed, dated and titled 'H. Höch 19, ER UND SEIN MILIEU' (lower left)
watercolour and pen and India ink on paper
19 ½ x 15 5/8 in. (49.6 x 39.7 cm.)
Executed in 1919
The artist, until at least 1924.
Galerie Franz, Berlin, by 1949.
Galerie Rudolf Springer, Berlin, by 1950.
Alain Bosquet, Paris.
William N. Copley, New York.
Mr & Mrs Barnet and Eleanor Cramer Hodes, Chicago.
Private collection, United States, by whom acquired from the above, circa 1980; sale, Christie's, New York, 8 November 2012, lot 156.
Acquired at the above sale.
W. Grohmann, 'Zehn Jahre Novembergruppe', in Kunst Der Zeit: Zeitschrift für Kunst und Literatur, vol. III, nos. 1-3, Berlin, 1928, p. 83 (illustrated).
G. Adriani, ed., Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen, Gemälde, Aquarelle, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Tubingen, 1980, pp. 56, 58 & 64 (illustrated p. 60).
H. Bergius, Das Lachen Dadas: die Berliner Dadaisten und ihre Aktionen, Giessen, 1989, p. 132 (illustrated p. 135).
B. Gaehtgens, 'Ausstellung in Berlin: Hannah Höch, Aufstand der Puppen und Papiere', in Die Zeit, no. 52, Berlin, 22 December 1989.
E. Roditi, Dialogues: Conversations with European Artists at Mid-Century, San Francisco, 1990, p. 71.
M. Lavin, Cut with the kitchen knife: The Weimar photomontages of Hannah Höch, New Haven & London, 1993, p. 135.
M. Stavrinaki, 'Dada inhumain: le sujet et son milieu', in Les Cahiers du Mnam, no. 103, Paris, Spring 2008, p. 77 (illustrated).
Berlin, Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, Abteilung der Novembergruppe, 1922, no. 1286.
Moscow, Erste Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Sowjet-Russland der Künstlerhilfe I.A.H., Autumn 1924, no. 86.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, De Onafhankelijken, 1929, no. 154.
Berlin, Galerie Franz, Hannah Höch, Olbilder, Zeichnungen, Foto-Montagen, Aquarelle, 1949, n.p. (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Dada 1916-1923, April - May 1953, no. 124, n.p..
Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, Hannah Höch, 1889-1978: Ihr Werk, ihr Leben, ihre Freunde, November 1989 - January 1990.
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.

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

Dr Ralf Burmeister has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Executed in 1919, Er und sein milieu is a rare watercolour dating from the height of Hannah Höch’s involvement with the Berlin Dadaists, in which the artist explored one of the key existential questions of the period – the place of humanity in the modern world of machinery. Drawing inspiration from the myriad of unusual objects, magazine clippings and mementos she preserved in a vast personal collection of ephemera, the otherworldly landscapes Höch produced during this period were intended, as she explained, to showcase ‘a new and sometimes terrifying dream world,’ one in which the fate of humanity seemed to hang precariously in the balance (Höch, in E. Roditi, Dialogues: Conversations with European Artists at Mid-Century, San Francisco, 1990, p. 71). With these otherworldly paintings, Höch believed she could ‘blur the firm borders that we human beings, cocksure as we are, are inclined to erect around everything that is accessible to us. I paint pictures in which I try to make this evident, tangible … I am a human being, but on the strength of my imagination – tied as it is – I can be a bridge. I should like to make what seems impossible appear possible; I should like to help to experience a richer world so that they may feel more kindly towards the world we know’ (Höch, quoted in Hannah Höch, exh. cat., London, 2014, p. 140).
Constructed using a variety of disparate elements and fragments, in a manner that echoes the artist’s work in photomontage, ER und sein milieu is infused with a dreamlike sense of mystery that echoes the enigmatic metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. In the foreground a helpless, diminutive humanoid figure dangles upside down by the ankle, tethered to a gas pipe that extends horizontally across the picture plane, supplying a small bulb just visible along the upper edge of the frame. In the distance, a long rectangular glass case bearing the label ‘kunst’ houses a selection of famous architectural monuments – including a pyramid, a Gothic cathedral, a modern high-rise, the tower of Babel, and the Eiffel Tower – structures that embody the achievements and progress of humankind at particular moments in history. To the right, a tower surmounted by a terrarium shelters a variety of plant-life, symbolising the natural world, while below a translucent globe balanced precariously atop a truncated pyramid bears a sign saying ‘Mitmenschen’ (fellow man), yet remains empty, as if waiting to be filled by specimens. Suggesting a haunting vision of the future, in which mankind is completely detached and alienated from the reality we once knew, Höch challenges her viewers to contemplate their destiny in this new and uncertain world.

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