Today would have been the 125th birthday of feminist Dada artist Hannah Höch — dubbed “art’s original punk” by The Guardian earlier this year. As the article points out, Höch was an unlikely addition to the early 20th-century group — which favored the irrational, nihilistic, collaborative, and spontaneous — namely, because Höch was a woman. One of the group’s pioneering photomontage artists, Höch critiqued the role of women, beauty standards, marriage, the politics of her home country, Germany, and the oft-misogynist Dada group itself. Take Höch’s 1919 work Cut With the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany, for instance. The title says it all. In celebration of Höch’s essential contributions to Dada and the art world at large, we’re visiting the works of other female Dadaists who you should know.
The youngest of the Duchamp siblings, Suzanne Duchamp lived in the famed Montparnasse Quarter of Paris so brother Marcel could help her establish her career (they were perhaps the closest of all the siblings). Female painters struggled for legitimacy at that time, despite being formally trained as Suzanne was at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Rouen. But the painter’s legacy was assured after an impressive showing in the Salon des Indépendants in Paris at 22 years old. One of Duchamp the Younger’s key Dada works, 1919’s Multiplication brisée et rétablie (Broken and Restored Multiplication), possessed the holy trinity of Dada: an anti-aesthetic sensibility, collage, and text. “The mirror would shatter, the scaffolding would totter, the balloons would fly away, the stars would dim, etc.” her abstract cityscape reads.