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  • Writer's pictureSteven Heller

John Heartfield, Art Director

The Malik-Verlag was the left-wing publishing house in Berlin founded by John Heartfield and his brother Wieland Herzfeld. During its heyday—1925-1930—the Malik-Verlag was a powerful influence on the development of satire in writing and graphic design in layout. Malik-Verlag played a major developmental role in the expression of Weimar period literature and the cultivation of the avante garde graphic style until after World War II.

This politically active German socialist publisher of periodicals, portfolios, broadsheets and books of fiction and nonfiction—whose first periodical was entitled Neue Jugend, or New Youth—is the trunk of the historical tree of which American alternative publishing of the 1960s was only a branch and from which elements of contemporary graphic design have surely grown.

Heartfield and George Grosz plied their craft as art directors/designers. This series of covers (below) was created for Kleine revolutionäre Bibliothek (1920–1923) by Heartfield with illustrations by Grosz and others. The duo also worked for the satirical publications Die Pleite and Der Knüppel. From 1924 to 1933, Heartfield designed illustrations for AIZ (Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung), the Communist Party mouthpiece journal, where he introduced photomontage as a political weapon.

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