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Die Drei Weisen aus dem Sorgenland

John Heartfield (German, 1891–1968)

Date:
1935
Medium:
Collage of gelatin silver prints with airbrush applied media
Dimensions:
Image: 53.7 x 42.7 cm (21 1/8 x 16 13/16 in.) Mount: 66 x 50.8 cm (26 x 20 in.) Frame: 69.1 x 54.1 cm (27 3/16 x 21 5/16 in.)
Classification:
Collages
Credit Line:
Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Kunstsammlung (JH 517)
  • Description

    In his anti-Nazi photomontages for the leftist magazine Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung (Workers’ Illustrated Journal), Heartfield used caricature, allegory, puns, and double entendres to create what one contemporary called “furious lampoons that inspire the friend and wound the foe.” Here, the three wise men of the Bible are reimagined as the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, the Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring, and Adolf Hitler himself, who hail from the Fascist “land of sorrows.” As they awkwardly walk their political tightrope, a sharp-toothed vole (Wühlmaus, in German) gnaws at the rope, allegorizing the anti-Fascist agitator (Wühler) working assiduously to send the regime toppling down.

  • Provenance

    Letter from the Director of the Akadamie to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on March 1, 2012: "I hearwith confirm that John Heartfield was the legal owner of all of his montages and other artworks which are now owned by the Akademie der Künste in its John Heartfield Archive and fine art collection since he created them from the 1920s until his death in April 24, 1968. He also was - as far as it could be constructed - in his physcial possession of these materials during his exile in Czechoslovakia and Great Britain. In his last willl, dating from Nov. 6, 1964, he bequeathed these materials to the "Akademie der Künste der DDR." IN 1993, the art and archive material of the Akademie der Künste came by federal law into the ownership and physical possession of the reunited East and West Akademie, called now "Akademie der Künste, Berlin." [See copy in file]
    Reproduced in an exhibition catalogue for a show held May 29 - August 31, 2009 at Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur: "John Heartfield: Zeitausschnitte: Fotomontagen 1918-1938 aus der Kunstsammlung der Akademie der Künste, Berlin / herausgegeben von Freya Mülhaupt ; mit Texten von Thomas Friedrich ... [et al.]; Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Kunstsammlung" (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2009), p. 146.

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