HANNAH HÖCH (1889-1978)
HANNAH HÖCH (1889-1978)
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HANNAH HÖCH (1889-1978)

Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit)

HANNAH HÖCH (1889-1978)
Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit)
signed and dated 'HANNAH HÖCH 1919' (lower right); inscribed '"BÜRGERLICHES BRAUTPAAR" (STREIT)' (lower left)
photomontage on paper
14 ¾ x 12 1⁄8 in. (37.5 x 30.9 cm.)
Executed in 1919
Private collection, North Germany, by whom acquired from the artist via the intermediation of Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin, after 1961 and before 1965, and thence by descent to the present owners.
G.J. Dech, Schnitt mit dem Küchenmesser DADA durch due letzte weimarer Bierbauchkulturepoche Deutschlands, Untersuchungen zur Fotomontage bei Hannah Höch, Munster, 1981, no. XXXVII/I, p. XXXVII (illustrated).
J. Dech & E. Maurer, eds., Da-Da zwischen Reden zu Hannah Höch, Berlin, 1991, no. 67, pp. 259-260 (illustrated n.p.).
M. Lavin, Cut with the Kitchen Knife: The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Höch, New Haven & London, 1993, no. 14, pp. ix, 27 & 28 (illustrated p. 28).
R. Hemus, Dada's Women, New Haven & London, 2009, p. 115 (illustrated fig. 46, p. 114).
I. Herold & K. Hille, Hannah Höch, Revolutionärin der Kunst, Das Werk nach 1945, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Mannheim, 2016, no. B1, pp. 14 & 233 (illustrated p. 14).
Stuttgart, Internationale Ausstellung des Deutschen Werkbunds, Film und Foto, May - July 1929, no. 332, p. 63.
Dusseldorf, Kunsthalle, DADA - Dokumente einer Bewegung, September - October 1958, no. 407, n.p..
Berlin, Galerie Meta Nierendorf, Hannah Höch, Bilder, Collagen, Aquarelle 1918-1961, May - June 1961, no. 10, n.p..
Alpbach, Europäisches Forum, Dada bis heute, August - September 1965, no. 90, n.p.; this exhibition later travelled to Linz, Neue Galerie der Stadt, September - October 1965; and Graz, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, October - November 1965.
Lausanne, Musée cantonal des beaux-arts, Berlin XXe siècle. De l'expressionisme à l'art contemporain, November 1968 - January 1969, no. 153, n.p. (illustrated pl. 153).
Kassel, Kunstverein, Hannah Höch, Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Collagen, Gouachen, May - June 1969, no. 84, n.p..
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, Hannah Höch, Collages, Peintures, Aquarelles, Gouaches, Dessins, January - March 1976, no. 58, pp. 63 & 84 (illustrated p. 63); this exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Nationalgalerie, March - May 1976.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Malerei und Photographie im Dialog, von 1840 bis heute, May - July 1977, n.p. (illustrated fig. 665, p. 283).
Berlin, Neuen Nationalgalerie, Tendenzen der Zwanziger Jahre, August - October 1977, no. 3/608, p. 3/248.
Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris-Berlin, rapports et contrastes, France-Allemagne 1900-1933, July - November 1978, p. 7 & 138 (illustrated p. 138).
Tubingen, Kunsthalle, Hannah Höch, Fotomontagen, Gemälde, Aquarelle, February - May 1980, no. 6, pp. 84, 115 & 228 (illustrated p. 115).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, German Art in the 20th Century, Painting and Sculpture,1905-1985, October - December 1985, no. 137, n.p. (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, February - April 1986.
Recklinghausen, Städtische Kunsthalle, Freiheit, Gleichheit, Brüderlichkeit: Künstlergruppen in Deutschland 1918-1923, May - June 1989, no. 69, n.p. (illustrated n.p.).
Atlanta, High Museum of Art, Art in Berlin, 1815-1989, November 1989 - January 1990, no. 42, pp. 148 & 251 (illustrated p. 148).
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, The Photomontages of Hannah Höch, October 1996 - February 1997, no. 4, pp. 29 & 63 (illustrated p. 29); this exhibition later travelled to New York, The Museum of Modern Art, February - May 1997; and Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, June - September 1997.
Paris, Centre Pompidou, DADA, October 2005 - January 2006, no. 333, pp. 492 & 574 (illustrated p. 493); this exhibition later travelled to Washington, National Gallery of Art, February - May 2006, no. 113, p. 140 (illustrated); and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, June - September 2006.
Further details
Dr. Ralf Burmeister has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Translating to ‘Bourgeois Wedding Couple – Quarrel’, Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit) is one of Hannah Höch’s most famous works, created at the height of her involvement with the Dada group and showcasing her strength and innovation as a Photomonteur. The only female artist in the Berlin Dada group, during this period of her work, themes of women’s identities and gender dynamics took on a greater significance and prominence to her artistic production. With confrontational expressions and aggressive postures, Höch continues her exploration of the Weimar concepts of the Neue Frau and Neuer Mensch, this time at deep blows with one another in a heated domestic dispute.

The dramatic societal changes triggered by the First World War had extended to gender roles, and the new, updated versions were embodied by two new modern archetypes: the emancipated, independent New Woman, the Neue Frau, and the forward thinking, liberal man, the Neuer Mensch. They were the bright young things of Weimar Germany; the promise of a more optimistic and egalitarian future. These ideals, however, in real life, fell short of their promises of equality, and nowhere was this more true than in Höch’s own romantic relationship with her fellow Dadaist, Raoul Hausmann. Though attempting to live as the New Man and New Woman, their relationship was very much subject to deeply entrenched gender roles and expectations. Publicly, Hausmann presented as a progressive, conspicuously supporting women’s emancipation through his writing and art. Privately, there was a great deal of hypocrisy in his treatment of the women in his life. Despite his liberal views, he subjected Höch to both verbal and physical abuse, and, contrary to his anti-bourgeois stance, he very much expected Höch to fulfil traditionally female chores in the domestic sphere. We see this war of the sexes in Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit), as Höch recreates ‘the fractured, difficult conflicts of the middle-class marriage, in which the two partners struggle with their identities and roles’ (R. Hemus, Dada’s Women, New Haven & London, 2009, p. 155).

Höch’s increasing lack of patience at this superficial-level solidarity is evident from her writings and artworks of the time, most famously in her short story Der Maler (The Painter), written in 1920. In the satirical tale, a male artist (a thinly veiled parody of Haussmann) experiences a shamelessly hypocritical existential crisis upon being asked by his wife to take turn in doing the dishes. This pervasion of the household drudgery of the domestic sphere features in Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit), through the images of household appliances which punctuate the background of the work. The two figures, despite their adult bodies, are infantilized by Höch: the oversized hat quite literally belittling the male figure, and the head of the female figure is that of an infant crying, eyes bunched up with raw emotion. Noise permeates the work: through the sense of movement of the composition; the large typography in the background; the emotional expressions and posturing of the figures; the machinery in the background – undoubtedly reflecting the clamour and din of Höch and Hausmann’s own altercations.

The theme of marriage appears in several of Höch’s works during this period, often parodying the institution. Hausmann was already married when he began his relationship with Höch in 1915. Throughout their relationship, which ended in 1924, he refused to divorce his wife and hypocritically berated Höch for her desire for him to marry her, mocking her for her bourgeois ‘obsession’ with marriage. Yet he himself was fixated on the idea of her becoming pregnant with his child, insisting this was the only way both their relationship and she, as a woman, could attain their full potential. By 1919, the year of Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit)’s creation, Höch had already fallen pregnant twice, but both times had terminated the pregnancy despite her own deep desire to have children, refusing to carry them to term without being wed to Hausmann. Her increasing cynicism both at her own relationship and the society around her is evident in Bürgerliches Brautpaar (Streit), a testament to her unique abilities to capture that which would later become one of the defining slogans of second-wave feminism: ‘the personal is political’.

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