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Photomontage

Photomontage is the process and result of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. A similar method, although one that does not use film, is realized today through image-editing software. This latter technique is referred to by professionals as “compositing”, and in casual usage is often called “photo shopping. Many of the early examples of fine-art photomontage consist of photographed elements superimposed on watercolours, a combination returned to by (e. g. ) George Groszin about 1915. He was part of the Dada movement in Berlin which was instrumental in making montage into a modern art-form. They first coined the term “photomontage” at the end of the war, around 1918 or 1919. The other major exponents were John Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, Kurt Schwitters, Raoul Hausmann and Johannes Baader.

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Individual photos combined together to create a new subject or visual image proved to be a powerful tool for the Dadists protesting World War I and the interests that they believed inspired the war. Photomontage survived Dada and was a technique inherited and used by European Surrealists such asSalvadorDali. The world’s first retrospective show of photomontage was held in Germany in 1931. A later term coined in Europe was “photocollage”; which usually referred to large and ambitious works that added typography and brushwork or even actual objects stuck to the photomontage.

Photomontage is the art of arranging and glueing photographs or other found illustrative material onto a surface. Strictly speaking it is a type of collage, and it is included here because it is a process of selection, placement and sometimes embellishment, which sets it apart from photographic record, no matter how much this ‘record’ is distorted by the photographic apparatus or by subsequent techniques of developing.

Hausmann actually gave up painting in 1923 and became more interested in various experimental photographic procedures. In The Art Critic the orange brick background is probably from one of Hausmann’s phonetic poem posters intended to be stuck on walls all over Berlin. The figure over giant head and pen is stamped Portrait constructed of George Grosz 1920, and is probably a magazine photograph of Hausmann’s colleague, Grosz.

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