Raoul Hausmann, “The Spirit of Our Time”, 1920, Assemblage with Wooden Head
Rauol Hausmann was an Austrian artist, a founder and a central figure in the Dada Movement in Berlin. He began his formal training at the atelier of Arthur Lewin-Funcke where he focused on anatomy and nude drawing. He later connected with the German Expressionist movement, studying woodcutting and lithography under Erich Heckel.
In 1917, Hausmann met Richard Hulsenbedk, who introduced him to the principles and philosophy of Dada, a new and visual art and literary movement. Dada artists and writers created provocative works that questioned capitalism and conformity, which they believed to be the fundamental motivations for the first World War which had just ended, leaving chaos and destruction throughout Europe.
‘Spirit of Our Time’ was a sculptural metaphor for the inability of the establishment to inspire the changes necessary to rebuild a better Germany. This sculpture illustrated Raoul Hausmann’s belief that the average supporter of what he considered to be a corrupt society had no more capabilities than those which chance had glued to the outside of his skull; his brain remained empty. With his eyes deliberately left blank, the ‘Spirit of Our Time’ was a blind automaton whose blinkered attitude excluded any possibility of creative thought.