Portrait of Richard Huelsenbeck

This is a big year for Dadaists and a Munich Dadaist asked me to create a portrait of Richard Huelsenbeck.

Because there isn’t alot about Mr. Huelsenbeck on the internet, I bought his memoir “Memoirs of a Dada Drummer” with full intentions of reading the whole book before creating my portrait.

That didn’t work out.  I did read the beginning and the end and was struck by the following quotes:

I left America because I felt I would never succeed in becoming an American in my heart.

I left America because I could never make clear to anyone the true meaning of Dada, which fights against a cultural identity being used as a protective shield for soul and political injustices.

Dada Fought for the freedom of the creative personality for the absence of artistic snobbism and lies.

In my research, I looked for artwork by Huelsenbeck but only a few pieces have been sold at auction and the pieces that were sold were uninspiring.  Huelsenbeck was a doctor and wrote poetry but those were not the part of Mr. Huelsenbeck that I wanted to share in the portrait.  I wanted to share how torn he was about Dadaism, his American life and working as a psychiatrist.

How do I show those in a photograph?

At first, I added text, as I would in an instagram photo.


The photo is a street photo around the corner from my office.  I have many versions of this man but this one was perfect because he has a street cleaner going right into his head (psychiatrist).  The ripped head represented how Huelsenbeck felt about his worlds. America was not home because it was too easy.  He was born to fight against something and that something did not exist in America.  The first version was black and white but, I decided to stick with the color version because I love the colours in this photograph.

Richard Huelsenbeck portrait v3

Looking at the photograph, I decided I didn’t want the text.  I want you to know those words but I don’t want his words on my photograph about him.  It felt wrong so I deleted the words.

I sent the file to the printer and printed it on the wrong side of the photo paper which left the photo looking really wet. Not realising my mistake and thinking I needed a new printer, I took a matt piece of photo paper and laid it on top of my color print and pressed down hard so that the second paper would soak up the extra ink.


I was so happy.  Look at my monoprint from my photograph. This is the first time I printed a photograph and worried about it.  That was a new feeling for me.

For the portrait, I then printed the image on the correct side of the paper and paired it up with the monoprint which makes the full piece.

Portrait of Richard Huelsenbeck Feb 2016 Digital print and monoprint on paper.

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