Tatlin at Home, 1920
|People often assume that photomontage
is only practicable in two forms: political propaganda or commercial publicity.
The first photomonteurs, the Dadaists, started from the point of view,
to them incontestable, that war-time painting, post-futurist expressionism,
had failed because of its non-objectivity and its absence of convictions;
and that not only painting, but all the arts and their techniques needed
a fundamental revolutionary change, in order to remain in touch with the
life of their epoch. The members of the Club Dada were naturally not interested
in elaborating new aesthetic rules … . But the idea of photomontage was
as revolutionary as its content, its form as subversive as the application
of the photograph and printed texts which, together, are transformed into
a static film. Having invented the static, simultaneous and purely phonetic
poem, the Dadaists applied the same principles to pictorial representation.
They were the first to use photographs as material to create, with the
aid of structures that were very different, often anomalous and with antagonistic
significance, a new entity which tore from the chaos of war and revolution
an entirely new image; and they were aware that their method possessed
a propaganda power which their contemporaries had not the courage to exploit.
Hausmann. Courrier Dada (Paris 1958). 42. Trans. Dawn Ades, Photomontage
(NY: Thames and Hudson, 1976) 24.
Tatlin at Home illustrates the principles of photomomontage
described by Raoul Hausmann in the accompanying text. It also pays a degree
of homage to the machine art that I have associated with Futurism and the
precision and objectivity required by art in the service of the revolution
by Raoul Hausmann:
The Spirit of Our Time - Mechanical Head, 1919
Dada Siegt, 1920
The Art Critic, 1919-1920
abstraction, and collage . . . (part II)