HOW IT'S DONE
Heartfield's work is obviously important to her on a deep level, and it shows in the intensity of the rendering on each page and the emphasis on a slow narrative pace that establishes his emotional state as a soldier... Wirick depicts the stuttering Heartfield as delicate and sensitive but not weak.
This is one of those things that people send me and I’m all overwhelmed with life and other blog stuff that I’m all “Oh I’ll look at this later.” And then I go back several months later and look at it while attempting to get my inbox/drafts under control, and realize: Holy crap. This is beautiful.
I don’t think Katherine has a single wasted panel here, and she has an uncanny knack for capturing a mood or moment in one quick image... [She] has the confidence of somebody who has been doing this for years, and it’s well-deserved, as she gets damned near everything right.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
John Heartfield was born Helmut Herzfeld in Berlin. After a childhood riven by trauma and an unhappy sojourn in the German infantry during World War I, he became a founding member of the influential Berlin Dada group, along with his close friend and collaborator George Grosz. Later he gained international fame as a designer of book covers, posters and stage sets, but his greatest achievements were his political photomontages of 1924-1938, which mercilessly satirized Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party, German warmongering, and the injustices of capitalism.
Berlin, 1914: struggling young painter Helmut Herzfeld suffers a mental breakdown after being drafted into the German infantry.
1917: after finding a kindred spirit in the equally radical and equally troubled artist George Grosz, Helmut changes his name to John Heartfield, gives up painting for the new art of photomontage, and devotes his life to the struggle against war.
1933: John Heartfield is the most famous anti-Nazi artist in Germany, and the SS have a bounty on his head.
Nervenkrank, literally "nerve-sick," is the German word for mentally ill. Both Heartfield and Grosz were diagnosed with nerve-sickness during the First World War. But what does it mean to be insane in a nation that's consuming itself? NERVENKRANK is a story about the cost of mental illness, and the power and limits of art; about an anarchic, witty, rebellious strain of German culture all but unknown to the rest of the world; about an intimate friendship that endured the darkest moments of the 20th century. Most of all, it's about John Heartfield's struggle: first, to recover his voice after a barbaric mental hospital stripped it away, then to survive the rise of a regime that wanted him erased from history.
THE HEART SURVIVE
IN A TIME
[The Nazis] know what kind of adversary they have in the small, unassuming Johnny. They hate him like hardly any other, and woe if they catch hold of him.
Oskar Maria Graf, “John Heartfield: Der Photomonteur und seine Kunst,” Deutsche Volkszeitung (Paris, November 20, 1938)