Modern Artist or Visual Politician? – Dada (part 3)


Analysis of ‘Da-Dandy’ by Hannah Höch 


Höch, Hannah, Da-Dandy. 1919. Photomontage. Private Collection, Berlin

Hannah Höch was a Dada artist, who is famous for her feminist based photomontages, which she used to draw the public’s eye to the problem of mis-representation of women in the media. Höch worked as a designer of sewing patterns at  Ullstein Verlug[1], a large publishing house in Berlin, where she was able to obtain images of the new idealised woman, which she used to create her photomontages.[2] This accessibility allowed Höch to monitor the slightest change in fashion or the depiction of the female as she was regularly provided with the latest trends. In ‘Da-Dandy’ the composition is built out of fetishised features of the female body.[3] The purpose of constructing the piece in this manner was to critique the portrayal of women and how they were presented as sexualised beings in mainstream media.[4] Höch argues that the sexualised image of the female is manufactured and therefore unrealistic. It is a fantasy that was created for the pleasure of men and to isolate women, as they were unable to relate to the glossy figures encapsulated in the magazine pages. The reoccurring motif of the woman’s face in ‘Da-Dandy’ symbolises this mass production and the objectification of the idealized woman[5]. Unlike her male comrade Haussman, Höch used her work to focus on a specific topic and it was this focalisation that allowed Höch to support her feminist based political agenda with a solution; women to be portrayed equally to men and not as an unattainable fantasy.

Höch provides a solution alongside her campaign for equality, just as a traditional politician would do. In order to win favour with the public a politician must first state his campaign and then conclude with a solution for the flaws he has observed and highlighted. The public may already be aware of the ills of society however it is the remedy they lack. Therefore, for the politician to gain support he or she must provide the solution to these flaws. Höch rises to this criterion by narrowing her political agenda to one main topic; the misrepresentation of women by the mainstream media. In her photomontage ‘Da-Dandy’ she clearly depicts the sexualised images of the female body, and in keeping her message focalized the viewer is able to draw a rational conclusion from her work by simply observing their own environment. The woman of reality who they see in the streets must work for her keep, however the manufactured woman on the magazine pages is a romanticised character who oozes elegance. The two depictions are juxtaposed, and by recognising this one can only rationally come to a single conclusion; women are misrepresented.

I will discuss the work of Hannah Höch in my next post as she revisits the dilemma of the depiction of women in Weimar society in her piece ‘Dada-Ernst’, translated as ‘Dada- Seriousness’. [6]

[1] “Hannah Hoch | German Artist”. Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p., 2015. Web. 8 Oct. 2016.

[2] Ibid

[3] “Hannah Höch | Da-Dandy (1919) | Artsy”. N.p., 2016. Web. 16 August. 2016.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Dillon, Brian. “Hannah Höch: Art’s Original Punk”. the Guardian. N.p.,2014. Web. 13 August 2016

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