Raoul Hausmann

Vision in Action

at Jeu de Paume, Paris

06 February 2018 until 20 May 2018

Long lines of carefully curated photomontages depicting traditional subjects of the female nude, wild landscape and portraiture, all reveal a whole new form of photography. Yet one cannot ignore the years in which these revolutionary photos were taken i.e 1927-1936, as they seem contemporary and relevant today.

Jeu de Paume, is hosting the new exhibition 'Vision in Action' by the DADA photographer Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971). For the first time in France, a large collection of 100 prints from his early experiments in photography throughout a decade, are curated together. Showcasing a true Avant-Gard artist developing his style and meaning, in the midst of historical upheavals. 

 

1933 was the year Hausmann was labeled by the Nazi Government a 'degenerate' artist and he had to leave Germany. During his exile and sudden flees from Berlin to Zurich to Ibiza to Limoges, he was reluctant to leave many of his photographs and films behind, resulting in a void in art history. This exhibition recaps a small part of the past showing Hausmann’s importance as a founding father of Abstract Art and one of the key figures of Berlin DADA movement.

Curator Cecile Bargues gave us the feeling of walking through a tunnel of exploration, development and new forms of mechanical art. Naming the exhibition 'Vision in Action' emphasizes the evolution and revolution he created in photography. Endless photos in black and white, exploring nature, soft captures of the female flesh and the scent of delicate flowers. All assembled together to create a series of experimental art, during troubling times in society. Perhaps his exploration at a time like that was escapism.

The works are grouped by subject and depiction; we are leased into a corridor filled with photographs and photomontages. Bargues placed a group of 4 photos taken in different years, a series of close up angles revealing depictions of femininity in divers ways. The overall message is nostalgia; a woman in bed, surrounded by soft white linen, the image is dim as if awakening from a dream. The sweet aroma of White Chrysanthemum fills the air, one can almost feel the delicate petals under the glass frame. We see a close-up of a pair of feminine hands, mending a hard denim fabric, and lastly hands in a small tub filled with foamed soap and water.

 

This leads to his examination of the female nude; the free spirit rolling in the warm sand of Ibiza, a new kind of nature, different from that of harsh Europe at the break of war. We continue to a timeline of his life, then like a train taking us though Hausmann’s journey, exposing the sand architecture of Ibiza.

 

In Ibiza, he began to research and document vernacular architecture and the formation of architecture without architects. We see glimpses of this period in his life. But there, at the very end of the train, in the last stop, it seems like it has ended abruptly. Raoul Hausmann packing up his belongings and heading off to his next destination.