The annual Day of Open Monuments offered the unique opportunity to visit the house and rural premises of Hannah Höch (1889-1978), great artist, co-founder and also the only female promoter of Dadaism. Her former green refuge and home is located in Berlin-Heiligensee, a more village-like district in the North of the German capital. Here she worked and lived from 1939 till her decease in 1978.
Hannah Höch’s house and garden (street-view)
Hannah Höch, Mechanical Garden, 1920
In 1918 she proclaimed the photo montage as a new form of artistic expression and thus wrote art history. The gift of observing was essential for her in order to discover new pictures in existing ones. With the help of scissors and glue Hannah Höch strove for such new creations, which according to her own estimation were achieved when the alienation of found illustrations was so fundamental that one could no longer recognize where the pictures originally came from.
Hannah Höch working in her garden, late 1960s
Nature and landscape played a special role in the ouevre of Hannah Höch through her entire life. She liked to show the numerous facets of nature far from a naive idyll by using also combative and humorous angle of views, sometimes full of dark melancholy.
Hannah Höch, Bouquet, 1929
” A great deal of strength gave me my strong touch with nature. In the wild whirl (in which) our life took place in this time, I always had this one thing at hand.”
(Hannah Höch in a letter to Kurt Heinz Matthies, 1943)
Back yard of Hannah Höch’s home
Every day she spent many hours in her garden, raising flowers, vegetables and fruits. So the garden was also important for her surviving because she never got rich with her varied art. Not all of her works are known till today because they are spread somewhere while she was also forced sometimes to pay the butcher or things like that with small artworks and creations.
Hannah Höch, Tempest, 1935
During the Third Reich she was defamed by the Nazis as a Culture-Bolshevist and was no longer allowed to work and exhibit. In the autumn of 1939 she bought a former flight attendant’s house in Berlin-Heiligensee far away from the busy city centre. The house offered an ideal hideout for the artist, and in this pastoral environment Höch could feel safe from spying and denunciation, because none of her neighbours suspected anything of her Dada past.
Hannah Höch, Der Unzufriedel, 1945
Due to this seclusion of her new domicile she succeeded in rescuing her own works as well as the objects of her artist friends which were declared by the Nazis as the leading representatives of socalled degenerate art. However, the decision to stay in Nazi-Germany resulted in a real difficult economical situation. To make a living she had to sell flowers and fruits from her nice garden which she arranged after WW II to a thriving total work of art.
Hannah Höch, Garden, 1948