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


HANNAH HÖCH (1889-1978)
signed with initials 'H.H.' (lower right); signed, dated, and inscribed 'Doppelkopf Zeit. etwa 1946. HÖCH' (on the reverse)
oil on masonite
27 5⁄8 x 31 1⁄2 in. (70.3 x 79.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1946
(Probably) Helene John, Berlin.
Robert Lebeck, Hamburg.
Galerie Elke Dröscher, Hamburg.
Probably acquired from the above by the present owner in circa the early 1980s.
Exh. cat., I. Herold & K. Hille, Hannah Höch. Revolutionärin der Kunst. Das Werk nach 1945, Kunstmuseum, Mannheim, 2016, no. B 10, p. 235 (illustrated p. 215; incorrectly catalogued as 'oil on canvas').
Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Hannah Höch zum 75. Geburtstag, Ölbilder, Collagen, November 1964 - January 1965, no. 29, p. 19 (illustrated).
Hamburg, Galerie Elke Dröscher, Hannah Höch: Collagen + Zeichnungnen, November 1974 - January 1975.
Tübingen, Kunsthalle, Hannah Höch, Fotomontagen - Gemälde - Aquarelle, February - May 1980, no. 129, p. 232 (illustrated p. 212; with inverted dimensions).
Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Hannah Höch: Collagen, Aquarelle, Gemälde, Zeichnungen aus sieben Jahrzehnten, November 1982 - February 1983, no. 70, p. 29 (illustrated).
Basel, Museum Tinguely, Hannah Höch - Aller Anfang ist DADA!, January - May 2008 (illustrated pl. 49?).
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
Dr. Ralf Burmeister has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 1946, Doppelkopf is an enigmatic, richly layered work that illustrates the powerful inventive spirit of Hannah Höch’s oeuvre following the end of the Second World War. For the first time since 1933, the artist was free to pursue her art without fear of reprisal from the authorities, and began once again to exhibit her work publicly in Germany. Writing to friends in Switzerland about renewed sense of energy that was unleashed in her art during this period, Höch describes the feeling of making up for lost time, which drove her creativity: ‘It always whips me up to catch up, catch up […] In any case – it’s flowing, and that’s why I don’t want to give up just yet and I’m fighting with all my remaining strength against becoming a victim of these 12 years as well’ (quoted in C. Schweitzer, Schrankenlose Freiheit für Hannah Höch: Das Leben einer Künstlerin, 1889-1978, Berlin, 2011, p. 381).

Filled with such artistic vigour and a sense of drive, Höch immersed herself in the newly reawakened cultural life of Berlin, taking part in exhibitions, curating shows, and delivering public lectures on modernism, feeling a sense of duty to contribute to the renewal of the arts following the oppression of the Nazi years. She also expanded her network, connecting with members of the contemporary avant-garde art scene from across Europe, many of whom she came to know through the Galerie Gerd Rosen, an important venue for modern art during the post-war period. She also showed her work frequently in her home district of Reinickendorf and delivered talks as part of the exhibition and educational programme of the Reinickendorfer Kunstamt to the local community, on topics including “Women and Art” and “The Unbiased Way of Looking at Art.” The influence of Höch’s outreach and engagement with these audiences may be seen in the history of the present work – according to the artist’s records, the first owner of Doppelkopf was probably Helene John, an administrative assistant in Reinickendorf during these years.

At this time, the German art world was locked in an ideological battle between abstraction and figuration, the former promoted for its complete freedom, the latter for its democratic accessibility. While Höch would later delve into pure, non-objective abstraction in her painterly works, in the years immediately following the end of the war she explored both ideas concurrently in her compositions, suggesting the fluid boundaries between these two apparently opposing aesthetic languages. As she explained: ‘I’m not one of those who think that the abstract is the only thing that brings salvation. The figurative says something, and the non-figurative too. Sometimes I want to say this, sometimes the other. I love the abstract because sometimes it takes me into the invisible faster than the object… You can see where I come from. From the living that leads me into the invisible. In the living things and beings I see the forms that I detach from them and that still cling to the living … The subject of this art is lines and colours, and they are very tangible things and not incomprehensible mysteries’ (quoted in I. Herold and K. Hille, Hannah Höch. Revolutionärin der Kunst. Das Werk nach 1945, exh. cat., Mannheim2016, p. 208).

In Doppelkopf, Höch presents the viewer with a mysterious, double headed figure, its visage split into two down the middle. Though both sides of the face share visual similarities, subtle differences suggest separate personalities conjoined together, perhaps even a female-male duality, as hinted at in the shape and colour of their lips. Rather than a more traditional Janus-like character, looking at once backwards and forwards, here the gaze of the two heads is difficult to decipher – on the left hand side, the eye seems to gaze inwards, while on the other side, the corresponding eye focuses outwards, away from their partner. The surrounding landscape is equally ambiguous, made up of a semi-abstract play of amorphous forms, that float and overlap one another in a series of layers that subtly suggest the recession of space. In some passages, very finely cut out threads appear woven together in delicate lattices, their forms reminiscent of Höch’s commercial textile designs, which repeatedly bled into her collages, drawings and paintings at various points in her career. However, it is the nuance of colour in the present work, the delicately variegated surface interspersed by pockets of bright

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