Heartfeld im Zentralbüro für Kunstausstellungen (Centralne Biuro Wystaw Artystycznych) in Warschau (1964)

  • Gabriela Świtek (Autor/in)


The paper explores some political and art-historical aspects of the exhibition Unfortunately Still Current: John Heartfield’s Photomontages (GDR) shown in the Central Office for Art Exhibitions in Warsaw (February 1964). While Heartfield’s works of the 1920s and the 1930s are still subject to new challenging interpretations, less analysed is their post-war reception including the travelling exhibitions of the 1960s. On the one hand, the Warsaw show was one of Heartfield’s post-war exhibitions which travelled to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy, Sweden or Great Britain. On the other hand, the presentation of his work in the Central Office for Art Exhibitions, the largest state gallery in the Polish People’s Republic, was part of a geopolitically planned art exchange between Poland and other countries behind the Iron Curtain. What is discussed in this context are some differences between the exhibitions of contemporary art from the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany organized in Warsaw in the 1950s and the 1960s. The 1964 Warsaw exhibition rhetoric is confronted with some paragraphs of Wieland Herzfelde’s biography of his brother John Heartfield: Leben und Werk (originally published in 1962 and reedited twice in the 1970s) as well as with Heartfield’s reception in Poland due to his artistic contacts with Mieczysław Berman. The validity of Heartfield’s exhibition is also discussed in relation to Dadaism’s revival in the 1960s, marked with the publication of Hans Richter’s DaDa – Kunst und Antikunst in 1964.