House Beautiful

These works from Martha Rosler‘s seminal series Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful—a group of images originally published in the underground newspapers that sprung up in the late 1960s in opposition to the Vietnam War. Reviving the modernist tradition of political photomontage epitomized by John Heartfield’s anti-Hitler covers for the German magazine AIZ, Rosler combined preexisting mass media images from documentary (Life) and lifestyle (House Beautiful) magazines to devastating effect.

In this example, Rosler shows two GIs rooting through an up-to-the-minute designer kitchen color-coordinated in blood red. More than a trenchant comment on America’s first “TV war,” Red Stripe Kitchen is also a harbinger of our own present moment, in which media images of domestic comfort and security no longer seem to keep the violence and chaos of the outside world at bay.

I first saw this series as part of Val Wiliams ‘War Works’ exhibiton at the V+A.


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