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    AND THE AVANT-GARDE edited byStephen C. Foster












    r ,edito


    FOSHP 0-262-56129-8
















    Cover illustrations: film still from Inflation; detail from Rhythmus 23 (Museo Cantonale dArte, Lugano). Hans Richter Estate.

    Few artists spanned the movements of

    early twentieth-century art as completely

    as did Hans Richter. Richter was a major

    force in the developments of expression-

    ism, Dada, De Stijl, constructivism, and

    surrealism, and the creator, with Viking

    Eggeling, of the abstract cinema. Along

    with Theo van Doesburg, Lszl Moholy-

    Nagy, El Lissitzky, and a few others, he is

    one of the artists crucial to an understand-

    ing of the role of the arts in the recon-

    struction era following World War I. After

    his emigration to the United States in

    1941, he contributed enormously to mod-

    ernism in the United States and served as

    an important conduit between the

    American and European art communities.

    Most American scholars have

    focused on Richters film work and have

    favored a strictly formalist approach that

    separates art and politics. The contribu-

    tors to this book rewrite Richters history to

    include his pivotal role in the development

    of the early twentieth-century avant-garde

    and his political activism. When Richters

    work, particularly that of his earlier,

    European career, is viewed in its historical

    and political context, he emerges as an

    artist committed to the power of art to

    change the fabric of social, political, and

    cultural affairs.

    The essays in this book, which

    accompanied a major 1998 Richter retro-

    spective held in Valencia, Spain, and at

    the University of Iowa Art Museum, are

    organized roughly around the expression-

    ist and Dada years, Richters short tenure

    in Munichs postwar revolutionary Second

    Council Republic, his central involvement

    in international constructivism and the

    development of the abstract cinema, and

    the politicization of film that arose from his

    anti-Nazi activities of the late twenties and


    Stephen C. Foster is Professor in the

    School of Art and Art History at the

    University of Iowa.

    The articles in Stephen Fosters skillfully

    edited anthology put Hans Richter into the

    context of political and social events which

    formed the crucible of his work. This task

    of historical recovery makes a vital contri-

    bution to understanding the link between

    form and ideology in the work of this signifi-

    cant early and influential twentieth-century

    figure. A valuable worknot just for the

    study of Richter, but as a model of current


    Johanna Drucker, Department of Art

    History, Yale University

    The MIT Press

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142


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    AND THE AVANT-GARDEedited byStephen C. Foster

    Published in collaboration withthe University of Iowa Museum ofArt, Iowa City

    The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

  • 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any

    form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopy-

    ing, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permis-

    sion in writing from the publisher.

    All images by Hans Richter Hans Richter Estate.

    Figure 1.1 Man Ray TrustADAGP/ARS, 1997.

    This book was set in Helvetica by Graphic Composition, Inc. and was

    printed and bound in the United States of America.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Hans Richter : activism, modernism, and the avant-garde / edited

    by Stephen C. Foster.

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 0-262-06196-1 (alk. paper)

    1. Richter, Hans, 18881976Criticism and interpretation.

    I. Foster, Stephen C.

    PN1998.3.R535H36 1998

    7009.92dc21 97-31931


  • CO




    viiList of IllustrationsAcknowledgments xi

    Hans Richter: Prophet of Modernism Stephen C. Foster 2

    Abstraction, Autonomy, and Contradiction in the Timothy O. Benson 16Politicization of the Art of Hans Richter

    Hans Richter, Munich Dada, and the Munich Republic of Justin Hoffmann 48Workers Councils

    Hans Richter: Constructivist Filmmaker Justin Hoffmann 72

    Hans Richter and the Constructivist International Bernd Finkeldey 92

    Richters Films and the Role of the Radical Artist, Marion von Hofacker 12219271941

    Hans Richter in America: Traditional Avant-Garde Values/ Estera Milman 160Shifting Sociopolitical Realities

    Appendix: Demonstration of the Universal Language Hans Richter 184

    Chronology Marion von Hofacker 240

    Bibliography Marion von Hofacker 280

    Contributors 316

    Index of Names 320

  • List of Illustrations

    All illustrations by Hans Richter, unless otherwise indicated.

    1.1: Man Ray, photo portrait of Hans Richter,

    c. 1930 5

    1.2 (and plate 1): Stalingrad, 1946 7

    1.3 (and plate 2): Revolution, 1914 11

    1.4: Cover of Revolution, 1913 11

    1.5: Study for Praludium, 1919 12

    1.6: Strip from Inflation, 1928 13

    2.1: Arbeiter, 1912 18

    2.2 (and plate 3): Cello, 1914 19

    2.3: Study for Konzert, c. 1916 19

    2.4: Selbstportrat (akademisch), c. 1912 21

    2.5 (and plate 4): Kudamm, 1913 22

    2.6 (and plate 5): LandschaftSchlittenfahrt,

    c. 1915 22

    2.7: Atherisch, c. 1918 23

  • 2.8: Musik, 1916 26

    2.9: Dada-Kopf Redner, 1918 26

    2.10: Cafe Odeon, 1917 28

    2.11: Corray der Blaubart, 1917 29

    2.12: Groteske (Die Welt den Ochsen und den

    Schweinen), 1917 32

    2.13: Kaiser Wilhelm als Befehlshaber des Todes,

    1917 32

    2.14: Visionary PortraitEmmy Hennings, 1917 35

    2.15 (also plate 6): Lokomotivseele/Visionary Portrait,

    191617 35

    2.16: Revolution, 191718 39

    2.17: Der Fr(e)ie Verlag, 1917 40

    3.1: Portrait of Hugo Ball, 1917 52

    3.2: Cover of Die Aktion, 1916 53

    3.3: Dada-Kopf (Alfred Wolfenstein), 1917 53

    3.4: An die Mutter Europas, 1917 56

    3.5: Study for Revolution, c. 1918 57

    3.6: Dada-Kopf, 1919 57

    4.1: Praludium, page 6, 1919 77

    4.2: Still from Rhythmus 21, 1921 79

    4.3 (and plate 7): Rhythmus 23, 1923 84

    4.4 (and plate 8): Orchestration der Farbe, 1923 84

    4.5 (and plate 9): Study for Rhythmus 25, 1923 87

    5.1: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter and Nelly and

    Theo van Doesburg in Berlin, c. 1921 98


  • 5.2: Photographer unknown, participants of the Congress

    for International Progressive Artists, Dusseldorf,

    1922 104

    5.3: Walter Dexels guest book 106107

    5.4: Photographer unknown, participants of the founding

    congress of the Constructivist International, Weimar,

    1922 108

    5.5: Kasimir Malevichs film script dedicated to Hans

    Richter, pages 13 114115

    6.1: Strip from Inflation, 1928 128

    6.2: Still from Vormittagsspuk, 1928 134

    6.3: Still from Vormittagsspuk, 1928 135

    6.4: Image from Rennsymphonie, 192829 137

    6.5: Photographer unknown, members of the Congress of

    Independent Cinema, La Sarraz, 1929 145

    6.6: Still from Metall, 1933 153

    7.1: Photographer unknown, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst,

    and Hans Richter in Richters studio in New York,

    1953 163

    7.2 (and plate 10): Liberation of Paris, 194445 167

    7.3: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter, Director of

    New York City College Film Institute, c. 1949 171

    7.4: Still from Dreams That Money Can Buy,

    194447 175

    9.1: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter in Hoppegarten

    Military Hospital, 1916 244

    9.2: Poster by Hans Richter for exhibition at Galerie Neue

    Kunst Hans Goltz, 1916 245

    9.3: Photographer unknown, Hans Arp, Tristan Tzara, and

    Hans Richter in Zurich, 1917 249

    List of Illustrations ix

  • 9.4: Artist unknown, poster for the eighth Dada soiree,

    1919 252

    9.5: G, cover of first issue, July 1923 259

    9.6: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter, Sergei

    Eisenstein, and Man Ray in Paris, 1929 263

    9.7: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter, Robert J.

    Flaherty, and Joris Ivens in New York, 1944 270

    9.8: Photographer unknown, Hans Richter at City College,

    New York, 1956 271

    9.9: Photographer unknown, Hans Arp and Hans Richter

    in the Ticino, c. 1963 273


  • Acknowledgments

    If I remember correctly, the beginning of this project dates

    from a phone conversation with Wendy Hawley-Ruppel. Al-

    though I cannot recall the exact content of the conversation,

    it prompted me to call Hans Ruppel and Ursula Lawder, son

    and daughter of Hans Richter and executors of the Hans

    Richter Estate. It was at that point, on the eve of the Richter

    centennial, that plans were first discussed for a monograph

    and retrospective exhibition.

    As in all such ventures, this book project has relied on