Johnny Heartfield was a generous comrade and a friendly man, despite his explosive temperament. In the Berlin Dada group he was nicknamed Dada Monteur (Dada Mechanic), which had a sharp technical ring to it. Heartfield’s communism was a trumpet of the Last Judgment: he was uncomplicatedly emotional, loved out of compassion and hated out of a sense of justice—and both in a more primitive Christian than politically partisan way. [...] His art helped him (as he helped it) simply to kick, photomontagistically into the beyond, a world that was no longer worthy to be called a world, which had become a non-world, and thus to eternalize its ruin—as art.
As distinct from Hausmann, Grosz, Arp, Höch, and the avalanche of present-day photomonteurs, Heartfield worked exclusively in this medium. He maximized its possibilities as a political weapon to a degree that has not been exceeded since, but which a whole generation utilizes today to its own advantage. We were convinced that he would never be able to survive in Hitler’s Germany because of his naive, emotional fearlessness and his hot-headedness. Yet he got away, some guardian angel preserved him, and he outlived Hitler.
...Nearly forty years had elapsed since our last meeting when we saw each other again in the mid- or late 1960s, at an exhibition of his work in a gallery near the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. [...] Together with his young wife we celebrated our reunion. In his rather high-pitched voice, speaking rapidly as usual, he talked of the memories we shared—of the quarrels, friendships, and enmities; he spluttered with horror at the traitors and turncoats during the Hitler years, the brownshirts and the others; he spoke also of his friends, Grosz and Franz Jung, and of the war, being a refugee, and of our meeting again. His whole lifetime, and mine... over a plate of spaghetti and veal milanese in the ghostly atmosphere of the restaurant’s dim back room.
When we finally had said goodbye, he suddenly turned and embraced me again, spontaneous and impulsive as ever. His life, his polemics, and his photomontage—all are creations of impulse. A loving farewell, and a last one.
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