Whitechapel celebrates collage artist Hannah Hoch - reviews

An exhibition of the remarkable collages of Dada artist Hannah Hoch is ‘the first must-see show of the year'


What you need to know

Critics are calling an exhibition of renowned German collage artist Hannah Hoch at the Whitechapel Gallery "the first must-see show of the year". Hoch, a leading member of Berlin's Dada movement in the 1920s, was one of the key artists behind the development of 20th century collage art.

The first major exhibition of her work in Britain presents over 100 pieces on paper spanning Hoch's career from the 1910s to the 1970s. It includes key collages as well as watercolours, woodcuts and scrapbooks offering an absurd and humorous commentary on the social changes of the 20th Century. At Whitechapel Gallery, London until 23 March.

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What the critics like

"The Whitechapel exhibition is properly respectful", but it is also enlivening, says Adrian Hamilton in The Independent. Hoch's collages are compulsive and endlessly rewarding, challenging but also celebratory.

The Hoch exhibition is "the first must-see show of the year", says Ben Luke in the Evening Standard. The visceral impact of her work with bodies and faces make the first half of the show a revelation, while her largely abstract post-war collages are also beautiful.

Hoch's work is "tough and punchy, yet always delicate", says Laura Cumming in The Observer. It's a juggling act of bristling vitality, and though it is often praised as a great assault on German politics, the sending up of people and objects is what strikes.

What they don't like

The curators seem to want a happy ending, in which Hoch came out of her Nazi ordeal stronger and reached her artistic apogee, but "that's probably a rewriting of her history", says Alastair Smart in the Daily Telegraph.

To prove the point they exhibit her later collages at considerable, and it seems interminable, length.

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