NARRATOR: Max Ernst’s closest collaborator in Cologne was Alfred F. Gruenwald, the son of a wealthy insurance director, who financed some of Ernst’s early endeavors. Largely self-taught, with a penchant for poetry and photomontage, he adopted the satirical pseudonym Johannes Baargeld, his surname taken from the German word for ‘cash.’
This collage from 1920 is a self-portrait, in which Baargeld mounted a picture of himself on a reproduction of the famous Venus de Milo in Paris. His youthful face is framed by a visor that looks like a soldier’s cap, alluding to WWI in which both he and Ernst had served.
CURATOR, ANNE UMLAND: This is a condemnation of war of some sort, of Baargeld imagining himself not only as classical woman, but as amputee, which itself relates back to themes throughout Dada. At the same time it's interesting, too, because of course this very central presentation of an eroticized female demigod speaks to the self-mythologizing, self-historicizing that goes on throughout Dada. They take aim at art history at the same time as they are in fact rewriting the history of art with themselves at center stage.