Above is a stage photograph of John Heartfield’s “Supermarket” set for the 1955 Berlin production of Mother Riba ( Mutter Riba ) by David Berg.
View Supermarket Color Version & Set Details
Heartfield didn’t continue his prolific work with anti-fascist photo montage after World War II. Finances and politics forced him to return to East Germany after his long stay in England. The passionate nature that allowed him to face down the barbarians of Third Reich had not faded. But madmen such as Adolf Hitler or Hermann Göring, who posed an existential threat the entire world, were dead.
The East German communist state was repressive. Heartfield was interrogated in anticipation of a trial for treason against the state. He was denied admission to the East German Akademie der Künste for six years. He was denied health benefits that might have extended his life following his heart attacks. However, East Germany was not Nazi Germany. Heartfield had neither the ability nor the incentive to challenge the East German hierarchy with the kind of famous photo montages he produced against The Third Reich.
Heartfield turned to his lifelong love affair with all things theatrical to express himself. He was a lifelong friend of such famous German playwrights as Bertolt Brecht. He had worked as a set designer as early 1921. He worked in German theatre while producing his groundbreaking graphic designs for Malik-Verlag book covers. He never lost his love for theatre work even as he created the World War II photo montages he produced against fascism and The Nazi Party.
It is not widely know that, in addition to his mastery of collage, Heartfield was a brilliant graphic artist, stage set and costume designer. He put those talents to good use designing his innovative influential stage sets and costumes for the German Theatre.
For Mother Riba, Heartfield relied on his visual memory of his years in England to create a stage collage of ads, comics, and illustrations.