Modern Artist or Visual Politician? – Dada (part 6)


The pieces which I have previously analysed are obviously politically triggered. However, the question which I have been exploring throughout this blog series is, does the artist who produces the politically based artwork act as a visual politician or as a social critic? If acting as the latter, I would have to conclude that that artist would maintain the title of ‘Modern Artist’ instead gaining the new title of ‘Visual Politician’?

During the short period of time studying History of Art, I have been exposed to a vast range of political art. This consisting of everything from the famous portrait of ‘Louis XIV’ by Hyacinthe Rigaud to cartoons in the newspaper, produced by the likes of David Lowe. However, even though I have only been studying this subject for all of 3 months, one can already recognize that a political artist has the choice of taking two roots in his art. The artist can either choose to take part in propaganda, thus reinforcing the person in power, or they can stand to oppose and criticise the society they live in or the government they live under. It is the latter that I have discussed in this essay.

Both Höch and Hausmann use photomontage to cultivate their campaigns and use the Dada movement to catapult their views into the spotlight. By exploring the question, ‘Modern Artist or Visual Politician’ over this series of 6 blogs, I can conclude that the Dada artist shares many common traits with the standard politician.  The divide that acts to separate the two roles is that one results to the use of words to express his or her ideals and the other uses images; Visual Politician. However, the flaw of the political modern artist, such as Haussmann, is that of their lack of a solution for the flaws of society that they highlight in their work. Therefore, I have concluded that without the support of a realistic solution one cannot label them a ‘Visual Politician’ but simply as a political modern artist or a social critic. It is a politician’s role in society to live by their manifesto; which Dada does, and provide a solution to solve the countries problems, which in turn supports the manifesto and gains people’s support; which Husmann’s ‘Dada Siegt’ does not. Without the presence of a solution the artist is simply being a social critic.

However, Hannah Höch can be labeled a Visual Politician because she focalizes her artwork onto a single subject; misrepresentation of women in society. Therefore, Höch is able to clearly state both her view on society and the changes that she believes must be made. By providing one main topic to criticize, the viewer can only come to one rational conclusion, that she is fighting for the opposite of what the present is providing; equality of men and women. Therefore, the modern artist Hannah Höch can be called a Visual Politician as she has crafted a powerful campaign through photomontage, called the public to support her ideology and supported this with an answer, just like a politician.

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