Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany (1919) by Hannah Hoch
The Dada movement was many things, but it was essentially an anti-war movement in Europe and New York from 1915 to 1923. It was an artistic revolt and protest against traditional beliefs of a pro-war society, and also fought against sexism/racism to a lesser degree. The word "dada" was picked at random out of a dictionary, and is actually the French word for "hobbyhorse" - Art History archive.
The German Dadaist, Hanna Hoch, is considered to be one of the main figures of the Berlin Dada movement. In Berlin, the Dada movement focused on the medium of photomontage, a collage of pictures and words, to express their political views. Dada artists such as Johannes Baader, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Raoul Hausmann, John Heartfield and Hannah Höch took a political tone to reflect their negative views toward German nationalism in the struggling post-World War I.
One of Hoch’s most famous paintings, Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada through the Last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany (1919), takes a stab at Weimar Germany. The great amount of imagery in the photomontage creates a satirical look on Weimar society. Subjects included in the work of art include “her Dada colleagues, Communist leaders, dancers, sports figures, and Dada slogans in varying typefaces.” There are four sections to this panorama, Dada Propaganda (upper left), Anti-Dadaists (upper right, Dada Persuasion (bottom left), Dada World/ Dadaist (bottom right).
During 1917, Germany’s devastating war involved severe restrictions on daily life and had created rampant inflation. Post-war Republic, Weimar Republic, had faced many problems as well. The abundant of power that the constitution gave to the President, the states, and the army, had created a very partisan government, having a majority of extremist on both sides. Both sides wanted to overthrow the government, and the worst crisis occurred in 1923, when the French tried to force Germany to pay reparations. This led to hyperinflation and a number of rebellions, particularly Hitler's Munich Putsch.
One of the people mentioned included in the photomontage was Kurt Tucholsky, a German satirist of the twentieth century. During the Weimar years he produced books, essays, newspaper columns, and lyrics for cabaret songs, and was a constant critic of the Weimar Republic “believing that it had not made the reforms necessary to make it a true democracy and a successful Republic.” As an advocate for democracy, Tucholsky’s 3 main themes included aggressive military mental tendency violence against left-wing politicians and sympathy from judges to right-wing violators, and the corruption of democratic politicians to defend their democracy. One poem in particular, which reflects his idea of a democracy is a poem that first appeared in “die Weltbuehne” on March 4, 1930
The Free Economy (1930)
By Kurt Tucholsky
Abolish those cursed tariffs
Trust your company director.
Walk out of the arbitration committees.
Leave everything else to your boss.
No more union talking their way in,
we want to be free economists!
"Away with groups" - on our banner!
Now, not you.
You don't need rest homes for your lungs,
no retirement and no insurances.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves,
taking money from the penniless State!
You should no longer stand together.
Would you please disperse yourselves!
No cartels in our territory!
We're building into the farthest future
trusts, cartels, associations, concerns.
We stand next to the furnace flames
in syndicated groups.
We dictate the prices and the contracts -
no law will get in our way.
We stand here well organized...
What you're doing is Marxism. Down with it!
We're assuming the power, step by step.
No one's disturbing us. Complacently
the ruling socialists stand by and watch.
We want you individually. To arms!
That's the newest economic theory!
The demand has not been made
that a German professor couldn't justify.
Working for our ideas in the factories
are officers of the old army,
the Steel Helmets, the Hitler garde ...
You, in cellars and attics,
Don't you see what they're doing with you?
With whose sweat the profit is gained?
No matter what might come.
The day will arrive,
when the crusading worker calls:
But us. Us. Us."