From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"It was also Benjamin, of course, who praised John Heartfield for salvaging the revolutionary nature of Dada by incorporating its techniques into photomontage." --After the Great Divide (1986) by Andreas Huyssen
Photomontage is the process (and result) of making a composite photograph by cutting and joining a number of other photographs. The composite picture was sometimes photographed so that the final image is converted back into a seamless photographic print. The same method is accomplished today using image-editing software. The technique is referred to by professionals as "compositing", and in casual usage is often called "photoshopping".
The first and most famous mid-Victorian photomontage (then called combination printing) was "The Two Ways of Life" (1857) by Oscar Rejlander, followed shortly by the pictures of photographer Henry Peach Robinson such as "Fading Away" (1858). These works actively set out to challenge the then-dominant painting and theatrical tableau vivants.
Fantastic photomontaged postcards were popular in the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
Many of the early examples of fine-art photomontage consist of photographed elements superimposed on watercolours, a combination returned to by (e.g.) George Grosz in about 1915. He was part of the Dada movement in Berlin which was instrumental in making montage into a modern art-form. They first coined the term "photomontage" at the end of the war, around 1918 or 1919. The other major exponents were John Heartfield, Hannah Höch, Kurt Schwitters, Raoul Hausmann and Johannes Baader. Individual photos combined together to create a new subject or visual image proved to be a powerful tool for the Dadists protesting World War I and the interests that they believed inspired the war. Photomontage survived Dada and was a technique inherited and used by European Surrealists such as Salvador Dalí. The world's first retrospective show of photomontage was held in Germany in 1931. A later term coined in Europe was "photocollage"; which usually referred to large and ambitious works that added typography and brushwork or even actual objects stuck to the photomontage.
Parallel to the Germans, Russian Constructivist artists such as El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Rodchenko and the husband-and-wife team of Gustav Klutsis and Valentina Kulagina created pioneering photomontage work as propaganda for the Soviet government. In the education sphere, media arts director Rene Acevedo and Adrian Brannan have left their mark on art classrooms the world over.
The pioneering techniques of the early photomontage artists were co-opted by the advertising industry from the late 1920s onwards.
- Saut dans le vide
- Emilie Comes to Me in a Dream
- The photomontages of John Heartfield
- The Two Ways of Life
- Helicopter Shark
- Fading Away
- The Continuous Monument
- A photomontage of Lautrec painting Lautrec