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John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld) was an important and ground-breaking artist in Germany, known as the inventor of photomontage. He anglicized his name in protest against the anti-British sentiments prevalent in Germany after the First World War. He was a member of Berlin Club Dada, later assisting with the Erste International Dada-Messe exhibition of 1920. His first photomontages were created for publications associated with the Dada movement as well as book jackets for the publishing house run by his brother, Malik-Verlag.

 

Heartfield is called by some the creator of photomontage, and is best known for having helped to pioneer the use of art as a political weapon, primarily through his famous anti-Nazi and anti-fascist photomontages. These collages were not simple combinations of pictures and text, but appropriated and reused photographs to achieve powerful political effects. He chose recognizable photographs of politicians or events from mainstream news sources, and then took apart and rearranged the images to change their meaning and provide a commentary on the current state of the country. His aim was to expose the dangers and abuses of power within the Nazi regime by highlighting their incompetence, greed, and hypocrisy. His most impactful images played with scale and stark juxtaposition to get their point across. His work shadowed and reflected the chaos and agitation present in Germany in the 1920’s and 1930’s, as it shifted towards social and political upheaval.

 

Heartfield’s images illustrating these tensions were so powerful that they helped to transform the photomontage into a powerful tool of mass communication. Some of his most impactful works were even mass-produced and distributed as posters in the streets of Berlin between 1932 and the Nazi rise to power in 1933, when the SS broke into Heartfield’s apartment and he was forced to flee Germany. Many of his best-known images were created for and published in the pages of AIZ – Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung, an illustrated left-wing worker’s journal published in Berlin, beginning in 1930.

 

Most of his sharpest satire was reserved for Adolf Hitler, parodying his poses, gestures, and symbols associated with the dictator. One such example is this image titled “Adolf, the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk”. Heartfield has overlaid a well-known photograph of the Führer with a chest x-ray and replaced his heart with a swastika. The x-ray reveals coins collecting in his stomach. Heartfield’s image references a cartoon by Honoré Daumier, and alludes to the large contributions that industrialists were making to the Nazi Party in contradiction to its supposed roots in socialism. This image made such an impact that it was reproduced as a political poster in 1932.

 

Another example is “Der Sinn des Hitlergrusses”. Heartfield exaggerates the difference in size between Hitler and the man behind him, handing him money, to comment again on Hitler’s relationship to Germany’s wealthy industrialists, a puppet accepting financial influence and assistance.

 

“The Meaning of Geneva” depicts a white dove, the symbol of peace, impaled on a bayonet, a symbol of modern warfare. In the background is the League of Nations palace, where the Geneva disarmament conference took place in November 1932. The text accompanying the image reads, “Where Capital Lives, There Can Be No Peace!”

 

 

(Heartfield Photomontages) – AIZ. Die Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung. Year X, No. 1 (n.d., 1931) through Year XII, No. 9 (n.d., 1933). 112 total issues of the illustrated left-wing German worker’s journal, published in Berlin from 1924 to March of 1933, and afterward in Prague and then Paris until 1938, anti-Fascist and pro-Communist in stance, published by Communist political activist Willi Münzenberg and best-known for its propagandistic photomontages by John Heartfield, of which 26 are included in this collection, and including coverage of current events, women’s issues, and gender relations, original fiction and poetry, and above all photography, primarily submitted by amateur photographers. Profusely illustrated throughout. Some very minor defects or small repairs, overall excellent condition. Folio. Original illustrated wrpps. Berlin (Neuer Deutscher Verlag) 1931-1933. (48927)

Before AIZ began, a monthly magazine called Sowjet Russland im Bild (Soviet Russia in Pictures) was published by Internationale Arbeiter-Hilfe (Workers International Relief), a group led by Willi Münzenberg. The magazine contained reports about the recently created Russian Soviet state and the IAH, and in 1922 began reporting on the German proletariat. As the paper expanded coverage and attracted prominent contributors such as George Grosz, Käthe Kollwitz, Maxim Gorki, and George Bernard Shaw, it grew rapidly and reappeared on November 30, 1924 with the new name of AIZ and a new format. Over time it became the most widely read socialist pictorial newspaper in Germany.

The issues included in this collection are: 1931 (Year X): Nos. 1-52; 1932 (Year XI): Nos. 1-52 (lacking no. 49 which was confiscated by the censorship authorities); and 1933 (Year XII): Nos. 1-9 (9 was the final issue published in Berlin after Hitler seized power).

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The 1960s were a tumultuous time in history, both in the United States and around the world. The 1960s saw the Bay of Pigs, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., important strides in the Civil Rights Movement including the Greensboro sit-in and the Selma-to-Montgomery march, student protests and demonstrations, second-wave feminism, and the Vietnam War.

The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) came into existence during those years of political protest and change, being founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton on October 15, 1966. The left-wing organization’s goals were the right to self-defense, better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans in the United States. They were greatly influenced by Malcolm X, and believed that violence or the threat of violence might be needed to help bring about change. Later they added a focus on community social programs including feeding impoverished children and opening community health clinics. However, their earliest activity was often tied up in violence.

Their core practice at the time was armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the activity and behavior of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality. Party members would listen to police calls on a short-wave radio, rush to the scene of the arrest with law books in hand, and inform the person being arrested of their constitutional rights. They carried loaded weapons during these patrols which they displayed publicly, but were careful to not interfere with any arrests.

In 1967, the California legislature passed the Mulford Act, named for one of its authors Don Mulford, which repealed a law allowing the carrying in public of loaded firearms. The bill was written as a response to the Panthers’ armed patrols, which were later called “copwatching”. The media even dubbed it “the Panther Bill”. As a response, on May 2, 1967, the Panthers marched, bearing arms, upon the State Capitol to protest the bill. They carried loaded rifles and shotguns and entered the Capitol to read aloud Executive Mandate Number 1, which was in opposition to the Mulford Act. They tried to enter the Assembly Chamber but were forced out, and so read the mandate out on the lawn. The legislature’s response was to pass the bill, and the protest and media coverage helped catapult the Black Panther Party into the national spotlight and led to a huge growth in membership numbers. F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory a group of original press photographs taken during this 1967 protest.

Group of Black Panther Press Photographs. Eleven original press photographs documenting the 1967 Sacramento Black Panther Party armed protest against the Mulford Act and the ensuing court case, taken by Walter Zeboski, a former Associated Press photographer, with photographs showing members of the Black Panther Party on the steps of the California State Capitol, protesting inside the Capitol with guns raised, and on trial for felony charges stemming from the armed protest, six with original typed captions, one with hand-written notation to margin. Most sheets 8-1/8 x 11-3/4 in. Original loose photographs, housed in contemporary sheet protectors, some accompanied by original film negatives. N.p. (Sacramento, California) 1967.

Some of the figures identified in the photographs are Assemblyman Don Mulford, who sponsored the bill; Assemblyman Willie L. Brown, Jr.; Beverly Axelrod, a Sacramento attorney representing the Panthers; and Mark Comfort, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale, Black Panther Party members on trial. (48837)

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48453c_008A complete archive of the original artwork, photographs, advertisements, and fully edited and corrected typewritten essays which comprise the official guide to the 1936 Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia: including 41 original pen and ink drawings by Lyle Justis used as vignettes and illustrations throughout the text; over 200 original photographs, most with identification stamps, photographers include Harris & Ewing, William Rittase, Earl C. Roper, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shahn, Lewis Wickes Hine, H.H. Rideout, Phillip B. Wallace, Theodor Horydczak, Underwood & Underwood Studios, Jean Sardou, and Bachrach, departments include the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the U.S. Forest Service, the Treasury Department, the Resettlement Administration, the U.S. Navy, the National Park Service, and the Works Progress Administration; and approximately 47 original typewritten manuscripts, heavily edited and corrected, which make up the essays printed throughout the program, including biographies of important members of the Democratic Party and reports from a wide variety of governmental departments, programs, and administrations; together with typed letters from members of the Democratic National Committee and advertisers in the program, captions, ad copy, and three copies of the program, one final printed version in orig. illus. wrpps. and two mock-ups of the signed limited edition of the program, full calf bindings.

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The contributors to the 1936 program include varied and notable figures from politics, journalism, and other fields. Hendrik Willem Van Loon was a historian and the first children’s book author to win the Newbery Medal. Roosevelt later called on him to work on his 1940 presidential campaign. Bascon Timmons was an esteemed newspaperman with a career spanning six decades, who served as an advisor to Presidents Coolidge and Roosevelt.

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Edward A. Filene was known for building the Filene’s department store chain and for his role in pioneering employee relations, a 40-hour work week, minimum wage for women, profit sharing, paid vacations, and credit unions. Claude Bowers, who served President Roosevelt as ambassador to Spain and Chile, wrote such influential histories of the Democratic Party that they moved Roosevelt to build the Jefferson Memorial. James Hamilton Lewis was the first Senator to hold the title of “Whip” in the United States Senate, and was a leader in getting much of Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom” legislation passed. Cordell Hull was the longest-serving Secretary of State in US history, and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his key role in establishing the United Nations.

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Henry Morgenthau, Jr. served as Secretary of the Treasury under FDR and was instrumental in designing and securing financing for the New Deal, as well as playing a major role in establishing the financing for US participation in World War II through a system of war bonds. Homer Cummings, the U.S. Attorney General from 1933 to 1939, secured the passage of twelve laws related to the “Lindbergh Law” on kidnapping, made bank robbery a federal crime, established Alcatraz prison, and strengthened the FBI. James Farley served simultaneously as Chairman of the Democratic National Commitee and Postmaster General under the first two Roosevelt administrations, and revolutionzed the use of polls and polling data.

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Harold L. Ickes served as Secretary of the Interior and Administration of Public Works, was reponsible for implementing much of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and was in charge of the Public Works Administration relief program. Frances Perkins Wilson was the longest-serving Secretary of Labor and the first woman appointed to the Cabinet. During her tenure, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition, assisted in getting the Civilian Conservation Corps and Public Works Administration up and running, crafted laws against child labor, enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act which cemented minimum wage and overtime laws and defined the 40-hour work week, and established the Social Security Act which included unemployment benefits, pensions for the elderly, and welfare for the poor. Marriner S. Eccles was a banker, economist, and member and chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, whose essay in this program titled “The Economic Program Since 1932” is a sort of blueprint for the New Deal.

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Harry L. Hopkins was one of the architects of the New Deal, especially the relief programs of the Works Progress Administration, which he directed and turned into the largest employer in the country. During the War, Hopkins also acted as Roosevelt’s unofficial emissary to Winston Churchill. Rexford G. Tugwell was an economist who took part in Roosevelt’s first “Brain Trust”, a group of academics who helped develop policies leading up to the New Deal. Tugwell helped design the New Deal farm program, the Soil Conservation Service following the Dust Bowls of the 1930s, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Resettlement Administration, a unit of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration which helped the rural unemployed.

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Mary Williams (Molly) Dewson was a feminist and political activist who served as the head of the Women’s Division of the Democratic National Committee where she worked with FDR to bring the women’s vote into action. She also worked with delinquent girls and domestic workers, served with the American Red Cross in France during World War I, and as president of the New York Consumers’ League, worked closely with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass labor laws for women. Fannie Hurst was a novelist and suffragist who fought for women to preserve their maiden names after marriage. Charl Ormond Williams was a teacher and suffragist who became the first woman to serve on the Democratic National Committee, and was the youngest and first southern woman to serve as President of the National Education Association.

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Radical Newspapers and ‘The Graphic Design of Urgency’

Free Angela January 15, 2010

Collection of Mid-century American and Canadian Leftist Literature; 184 individual issues of 59 serials comprising a unique collection of publications from the 1920s to the 1990s. [45779] F.A. Bernett Books recently acquired a private collection of leftist periodicals. In cataloging the material, I was struck over and over again by a particular quality of the […]