Decline & Fall

Cut with the Kitchen Knife DaDa through the Beer Belly of the Weimar Republic 1919-Hannah Hoch
It’s all starting to feel a bit Weimar. The recent economic crisis, the unscrupulous charismatic populist demagogues that exploit the disconnect between the political elites and the populace that have caused a surge towards  the various strands of extremism. Most disturbing of all is the resurgence of that particularly insidious form of reactionary nationalism that believes the future lies in a return to a mythical golden age, before the appearance of the loathed ‘other’ ruined the mother/fatherland. As with the Weimar Republic there is a feeling that the old order is soon to come crumbling down; to be replaced by who knows exactly what. All we need now to complete the comparison is a bit more decadence, a lot of street-fighting, a spot of hyper-inflation and some cabaret.

The art of the Weimar Republic is exceptional in its savagery. Berlin Dada was the most aggressively politicised of them all (see my “Everyman His Own Football”). Above is a particularly brutal satire of the contemporary society of the Weimar Republic by Hannah Hoch, whose ground-breaking photo-montages were deemed ‘degenerate art’ by the Nazis when they began their purge of modern art in the late 1930’s.

(This was originally posted back in June 2016).


La Paravent-Toyen 1966
An eerie and mysterious painting from Marie Cerminova, known as Toyen, one of the leading members of the very active Czech Surrealist Group. Her work included oil paintings, photo-montages and line drawings in a distinctive style, often featuring explicit erotic imagery, bizarre juxtapositions and startling metamorphosis. Toyen also illustrated the Marquis De Sade’s Justine.