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Raoul Hausmann

Raoul Hausmann

*  1886 Wien
† 1971 Limoges

Born in Vienna, Raoul Hausmann at fourteen moved with his parents to Berlin. He received his first training in painting from his father, an academy painter who mainly worked on decorative commissions. As a young man, Raoul Hausmann was interested in the goals set by Expressionism, then just emerging in Germany, and was a committed staff member of the magazine 'Der Sturm'. Apart from painting, Hausmann studied philosophy and literature extensively, publishing articles and poems in several magazines. His literary activity brought him into contact inter alia in 1913 with the writers working for the magazine 'Die Aktion'. Until he encountered Dadaist thinking and ideas in 1917 (which were conveyed to him, on the one hand, by the magazine 'Cabaret' and, on the other, by the physician and writer Richard Huelsenbeck), Hausmann was a convinced adherent of Exprssionism. The first Dada soirées were held from 1918, participated in by Hausmann, Huelsenbeck, Heartfield, Grosz et al. That year also saw the 'Club Dada' founded and the launching of the first 'Dadaist Manifesto'. Hausmann developed a photomontage process and published his first 'poster poems' and phonetic poems. In 1919 he became editor of the magazine 'Dada'. After more Dada soirées in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig and Prague, the end of the movement was obviously imminent by 1920. Hausmann began writing 'Hyle', a novel, in 1926. On the side, he conducted electrical, acoustic and optical analysis with the Optophon, a device patended in London in 1935 which was supposed to make sound and light waves correspond. In 1930 Hausmann began working systematically with photography, further developing his approach after emigrating to Ibiza in 1933. The documentary photos and phototechnical experiments he produced during this period would be the only artistic activity in which Hausmann would be able to indulge without restriction for quite some time to come because, as a proscribed artist, he was always threatened with persecution until 1944. From Spain he went to Zurich in 1936 and to Prague in 1937. A year later he was in Paris and finally via Peyrat-le-Château he reached Limoges, where he settled. There his almost complete isolation was relieved only by extensive and partly conflict-ridden correspondence with old friends from the Dada movement as well as young writers and artists such as Jasper Johns, Wolf Vostell and Daniel Spoerri until his death in 1971.