“Vision in Action” —an exhibition at Paris’ Jeu de Paume— is an opportunity to discover the photographic work of Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971), one of the key figures in the Berlin Dada group, whose experimental photographic collages, poster poems, sound poetry and provocative art critiques had a profound influence on the European Avant-Garde in the aftermath of World War I (until May 20, 2018).
Hausmann is largely remembered for his most famous work, “Der Geist Unserer Zeit – Mechanischer Kopf” (The Spirit of Our Age – Mechanical Head), constructed from a hairdresser’s wig-making dummy. He helped organize Dada events such as the First International Dada Fair in 1920 while authoring Dada manifestos and contributing his “Dadasophy” (philosophy on Dada) to publications such as the one he edited “Der Dada.” His work purposely blurred the lines between the arts, including photography and dance. In the Dada spirit the famous German photographer and Hausmann friend August Sander portrayed him as a dancer.
Considering Hausmann’s life on the run from Berlin to Zurich to Ibiza to Limoges during the war years it is lucky we can still see any of his photos at all. Labelled a ‘degenerate‘ artist by the Nazis, he hastily left Germany in 1933. In exile, Hausmann suffered the dispersion and sometimes destruction of his work. His photographs were presumed lost until the late seventies when they were discovered at his daughter’s home after her death.
The exhibition at the Jeu de Paume is the first time his photography has had a dedicated museum exhibition in France. The work somewhere between New Vision and New Objectivity—with landscapes, intimate portraits and nudes—is both experimental and classical at the same time… very different from the artist’s snarky Dada persona. With a renewed interest in the work of innovative early twentieth century photographers and this exhibition Hausmann’s photography gets a second look and some long-delayed acknowledgement.
“Raoul Hausann, Un Regard en Mouvement” (Vision in Action) to May 20, 2018, Jeu de Paume, Concorde Paris