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Peter W. Guenther

(b Pirmasens, Feb 22, 1886; d San Abbondio, Switzerland, Sept 14, 1927).

German writer and performer . After studying sociology and philosophy at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg he began working as a stage manager at the theatre in Plauen in 1910. He wrote a number of plays while in Munich in 1912. He also wrote poetry and was charged with obscenity for his poem Der Henker (pubd in Revolution, 15 Oct 1913) but was later exonerated on account of its ‘unintelligibility’. About this time he experimented with Expressionist painting. His plans to form, with Vasily Kandinsky, a new type of experimental Expressionist theatre in Munich were interrupted by the beginnings of World War I. Ball volunteered but was rejected for health reasons. He became a pacifist and published poetry and prose in several journals.

Ball became a leading figure in the development of the Dada movement, and he is credited with inventing the name. In 1915, with Richard Huelsenbeck, he organized Expressionist readings in Berlin. In May of the same year he emigrated with ...

Article

Barbara Lange

revised by Andrés Mario Zervigón

[Herzfeld, Helmut ]

(b Berlin, June 19, 1891; d Berlin, April 26, 1968).

German photomontagist, draughtsman, typographer, stage designer, and film director. After a difficult childhood owing to the persecution of his father for his political beliefs, he studied art at the Königliche Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich from 1907 to 1911, specializing in advertising art. In 1912 he took his first job in a paper packaging company (for which he completed graphic design work) in Mannheim, moving to Berlin in 1913, where he and his brother Wieland Herzfeld made contact with avant-garde circles. (Wieland changed his surname to Herzfelde in early 1914.) Heartfield’s experiences in World War I led him to conclude that the only worthy art was that which took account of social realities (see Eclipse of the Sun on the Rhine, 1957). He destroyed all his early work.

From 1916 Heartfield collaborated closely with George Grosz and in the summer of 1917, like Grosz, anglicized his name, although he did not adopt this form officially until after the war. His earnest criticism of bourgeois society found its expression in his commitment to the ...

Article

(b Paris, Oct 31, 1883; d Paris, June 8, 1956).

French painter, stage designer and illustrator. After studying porcelain painting at the Sèvres factory (1901) and drawing in Paris under the French flower painter Madelaine Lemaire (1845–1928), in 1903–4 she studied at the Académie Humbert in Paris, where she met Georges Braque and Francis Picabia. In 1907 she first exhibited paintings at the Salon des Indépendants, met Picasso at Clovis Sagot’s gallery and through Picasso was introduced to the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Laurencin and Apollinaire were soon on intimate terms, their relationship lasting until 1912.

Laurencin became a regular associate of the painters and poets associated with the Bateau-Lavoir, who included Picasso, Braque, Gris, Max Jacob and André Salmon. She was present at the banquet given by Picasso in honour of Henri Rousseau in 1908 and produced the first version of Apollinaire and his Friends (1908; Baltimore, MD, Mus. A.) in a highly simplified style, in which she pictured herself and the poet with Picasso and his companion Fernande Olivier. Both this and a larger version with additional figures (...

Article

(b Brussels, Nov 27, 1903; d Brussels, May 13, 1971).

Belgian writer, exhibition organizer, collagist and composer. As a young composer he was influenced by Erik Satie. He collaborated on Dadaist-inspired journals and published, with René Magritte, Œsophage (1925), the only issue of which, containing the poems of Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, remained faithful to the Dada spirit. In 1926 Marie, a ‘journal bi-mensuel pour la belle jeunesse’, published under his direction, pursued the same vein; it only had two issues. Mesens was involved in the establishment of a Surrealist movement (see Surrealism), which was strongly permeated with Dadaism in Belgium. In 1927 he became Director of the Galerie L’Epoque and in 1931 of the Galerie Mesens, both in Brussels. Miró, Magritte and Max Ernst all exhibited with him. He founded the Editions Nicolas Flamel, which published the Surrealists’ collective homage to a parricide, Violette Nozières (Brussels, 1933), André Breton’s lecture ‘Qu’est-ce que le surréalisme’, held on the occasion of the first international Surrealist exhibition organized in Brussels by Mesens under the auspices of ...

Article

Hans-Peter Wittwer

(b Lucerne, Aug 11, 1930; d Berlin, Nov 9, 1985).

Swiss painter, draughtsman and stage designer. He met Serge Stauffer (b 1930) in 1946, with whom he shared an admiration for Dada and Surrealism, and in particular for Hans Arp and Marcel Duchamp. In 1947 they started to exchange letters (some of which survive; see 1985 exh. cat.). Thomkins studied under Max von Moos (b 1903) at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Lucerne (1947–9), although he did not formally enrol at the college. He then attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris (1950–51). In 1952 he settled in Rheydt, near Lucerne, where he created the autobiographical figure Schwebsel, analogous to Max Ernst’s Lop-Lop bird.

In 1954 Thomkins moved to Essen. He produced the first Vexierklischees (painted photographs) in 1955 (e.g. Ornamental Asparagus is Re-potted Here, 1956; The Hague, Gemeentemus.) and began to experiment with Lackskins, produced by letting oil paint drip on to a water surface and using paper to pick up the coloured paint as it spread and mixed with the water. In these works he was experimenting with the interplay between manipulation and chance, which he had observed in the work of the Surrealists. In ...