Hannah Höch (1889-1978)
In der Wüste
signed with the artist’s initials 'H.H.' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'Höch 1927-1927 In der Wüste' (on the reverse)
photo collage and watercolour on paper
24.5 x 25.5cm.
Executed circa 1927-1929

We are grateful to Dr Ralf Burmeister for their assistance in cataloguing this work.
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1970.
Kassel, Kasseler Kunstverein, Hannah Höch, 1969, no. 102.
Tübingen, Kunsthalle, Hannah Höch: Fotomontagen, Gemälde, Aquarelle, 1980, no. 48 (illustrated, p. 180). This exhibition later travelled to Hannover, Kunstmuseum; Wuppertal, Von der Heydt-Museum and Frankfurt, Kunstverein.
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, The Photomontages of Hannah Höch, 1996-1997, no. 58 (illustrated, p. 112). This exhibition later travelled to New York, The Museum of Modern Art and Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Munch, Nolde, Beckmann...Private treasures from Southern Germany, 2004.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Please note this lot is the property of a consumer. See H1 of the Conditions of Sale.
Brought to you by

Lot Essay

Acquired directly from the artist in 1970, and held in the von Maur collection for the half-century since, In der Wüste (In the Desert) (1927-1929) is a magical photomontage by Hannah Höch, who pioneered this form of art-making as part of the Berlin Dada movement. The work depicts a fantastical landscape, formed of monochrome photographic cut-outs collaged over a watercoloured red and green ground. In the foreground are two curious creatures: one a horse-like ancient bronze in profile, and the other a scarab-shaped being constructed of small legs and a carapace of wrinkled skin. Twin Zeppelin hulls rise into the red sky behind them, like the mountains of an alien planet. From 1996 to 1997, the work was included in the major exhibition The Photomontages of Hannah Höch at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, later travelling to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

With its playful, surreal juxtaposition of found elements—sourced from a variety of mass-printed sources—In der Wüste exemplifies the whimsical quality of Höch’s later 1920s montages. They were more whimsical in spirit than the searing social commentaries of her Dada period, such as Cut with a Kitchen Knife Dada through the last Weimar Beer Belly Cultural Epoch of Germany (1919), which had caused a sensation when displayed at the First Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920. Indeed, Höch stood apart from her male Dada colleagues—many of whom actively marginalised her—in her dedication to fantasy, subjectivity and formal experimentation, and had more in common with artists like Max Ernst and Hans Arp. She continued to pursue photomontages for almost fifty years, gradually evolving from mordant political statements to a more surreal mode, and finally to outright abstraction.

Between 1926 and 1929, Höch was living with her female partner Til Brugman in Holland, and her works of this period—the only time she spent living outside Berlin—display a particular exploratory freedom. Höch had become interested in portraying (and embodying) the independent ‘New Woman’ of Weimar society, and was working at the time on her series From an Ethnographic Museum: a group of composite figures that challenged racial and gender stereotypes by fusing images of contemporary European women with elements of ‘primitive’ sculpture. Like these works, In der Wüste reimagines imagery taken from a museum catalogue, radically disrupting traditional art-historical contexts in order to conjure a vivid landscape of the mind.

Related Articles

Sorry, we are unable to display this content. Please check your connection.

More from
The Curator's Eye: The Collection of Professor Dr Karin von Maur
Place your bid Condition report

A Christie's specialist may contact you to discuss this lot or to notify you if the condition changes prior to the sale.

I confirm that I have read this Important Notice regarding Condition Reports and agree to its terms. View Condition Report