Heinrich Hoffmann’ s 1932 photograph of Hitler asleep in his Mercedes, his face hidden, enables us to understand the aesthetics of fascism and probe the limits of representation. Appropriated by Troy Brauntuch for his 1979 solo show at the Kitchen in New York, Hoffmann’s image is revealed to be a receptacle of contested histories, spanning Nazi Germany and America. The back of Hitler’s head presents a dangerously unstable zone which exposes the gap between what can be seen and what can be known. The photograph lays bare how images collapse past and present, while asking difficult questions of an audience’s identification with the image’s subject. The photograph will emerge as a haunting premonition of the world to come.
Altair Brandon-Salmon is a PhD candidate in Art History at Stanford University, writing a dissertation on how bombsites in London shaped postwar British art and architecture. His writing has appeared in Art History.
Organised by Professor Jo Applin and Professor David Peters Corbett (The Courtauld).
The Centre for American Art is supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art