Mental Floss

Die Dame: Hannah Höch

Andréa Fernandes

In honor of the 119th anniversary of her birth, today's "Feel Art Again" features Hannah Höch (1889-1978) at the request of reader Adrienne. The German Dadaist was known for her photomontages and collages, such as "Meine Haussprüche," or "Proverbs to Live By," shown above.

1. Hannah Höch is usually referred to as the only female member of the Berlin Dadaists. The group "paid lip service to women's emancipation" but weren't too keen on a female member, and often downplayed her role, discussing the "sandwiches, beer and coffee" she supplied. Dadaist Raoul Haussmann, with whom she was romantically involved, even suggested she obtain a job in order to financially support him. Her photomontage "Da-Dandy" references the hypocrisy not just of the Berlin Dadaists but also of German society as a whole.

2. One of the originators, along with Haussmann, of the photomontage, Höch created photomontages for most of her career. Her works often acted as social commentary—many were critical of marriage, the view of women, and the "beauty culture;" others depicted same sex couples; and some made strong statements on racial discrimination.

3. Höch's relationship with Haussmann was the first relationship to have a significant influence on her work. Their relationship was complicated—Haussmann was married to another woman at the time and refused to marry Höch. During her seven year relationship with the physically abusive Haussmann, Höch underwent two abortions. Fellow artist Kurt Schwitters summed up their relationship by saying, "Whenever she needs him, she's there for him."

4. Many of the clippings Höch used in her photomontages came from magazines she obtained while working for Ullstein Press. During her time there, Höch designed dress and embroidery patterns for women's magazines, including Die Dame (The Lady) and Die praktische Berlinerin (The Practical Berlin Woman).

5. At the start of World War I, Höch worked for the Red Cross. She was less politically active than the other Berlin Dadaists, though, and although she remained in Germany during the second World War, she lived in "inner emigration" on the outskirts of Berlin. She was forbidden to exhibit and tried to maintain a quiet existence.

A larger version of "Meine Haussprüche" is available here. Fans should check out the collections of Höch artwork from the University of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, and History of Art, and this animated tribute to Höch. "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with artist suggestions or details of current exhibitions.