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Prussian Archangel
  • © Viola Roehr-von Alvensleben, D-München/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
    • John Heartfield (1891 - 1968)

  • TitlePrussian Archangel
  • Date1920/1988
  • CategoryInstallation
  • MaterialPappmaché auf Drahtgerüst
  • Dimensions180 x cm (Objektmaß), 15 kg (Gewicht)
  • Inventory NumberBG-O 7084/93
  • CreditlineErworben aus Projektmitteln des Senators für Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Berlin, 1988
  • On DisplayNo

In summer 1920 visitors to the “First International Dada Fair” found themselves under a sculpture suspended from the ceiling with the enlightening title “Prussian Archangel”. This figure, wearing the military grey of an officer’s uniform, swooped down upon the public “from Heaven on high” (as his sash proclaims), bearing tidings that were actually not so good.

This piece of Dada is a bitter satire on the German militarism and martial influence that continued unabated after World War I. “Gott mit uns” (God with us), the motto of Prussian kings, adorned the buckles of German troops as they marched into battle. What followed was Hell on Earth. The provocative highlight in this sculpture by John Heartfield and Rudolf Schlichter is the pig’s head. But the work merely exposes what men had unearthed in the trenches: their own bestial nature. The swinish countenance – in the Dadaists’ opinion – was the true face of the times.