Kurt Schwitters

Kurt Schwitters was a German artist born in 1887 and studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hannover and the Kunstakademie, Dresden. After serving as a draftsman in the military in 1917 Schwitters experimented with Cubist and Expressionist styles. In 1919 he invented the term “Merz,” which he was to apply to all his creative activities: poetry as well as collage and constructions. This year also marked the beginning of his friendships with Jean Arp and Raoul Hausmann. 1919 was also the year of his first exhibition at Der Sturm gallery, Berlin, and the first publication of his writings in the Der Sturm periodical.

 

Schwitters showed at the Société Anonyme in New York in 1920 and with Arp he attended the Kongress der Konstructivisten in Weimar in 1922. There Schwitters met Theo van Doesburg, who’s De Stijl principles had a strong influence on his work. From 1923 to 1932, he published the magazine Merz and in 1932, he joined the Paris-based Abstraction-Création group and wrote for their publication of the same name. His work in this period became increasingly Modernist in spirit, with far less overtly political context in keeping with contemporary.  In 1936 Schwitters participated in the Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

 

The Nazi regime banned Schwitters’s work as “degenerate art” in 1937 and he fled to Lysaker, Norway.  After the German invasion of Norway in 1940, Schwitters escaped to England where he was interned for over a year. Settling first in London following his release, he moved to Little Langdale in the Lake District in 1945. Schwitters died 1948, in Kendal, England.