Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau and his famous Ursonate have turned the artist into one of the main protagonists of modern European Art and an influential figure of Avantgarde. Starting in June, Sprengel Museum Hannover in a collaboration with Tate Britain and Kurt und Ernst Schwitters Stiftung have launched their exhibition Schwitters in England showing the dadaist’s late body of work.Born June 20, 1887 in Hannover Schwitters had to flee Germany in 1937 and first chose Noway for exile. He managed to build two of his famous Merzbauten, before, due to the German invasion on Norway he had to leave for Britain in 1940 where he lived until his death in 1948.
Being a German he was taken into custody on the Isle of Man along with many other exiles. When released in 1941 he moved to London. Sprengel Museum follows these influences on his oevre showing ca. 150 of his works dating from around this period. Next to collages, assemblages, paintings and sculptures, photographs and other archived materials depict the personal and historical background of his last years.
Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau not only made this individualist famous, it may best describe his concept of art: „The combination of all kinds of materials to suit an artistic purpose“, or, simply put: his special technique of collaging newspaper clippings, advertisements and „junk“ into something „bigger“.When Schwitters used materials he always equalized them with colour and paints, from a simple cord to the wheel of a pram. He used finds and everyday objects and combined them in his abstract collages. Today they stand as unique and exceptional arrangements of colour, form, and pictographical stories about urban life and spaces. In addition a number of his smaller sculptures and a small collection of artefacts taken from a 1944 exhibition at London’s Modern Art Gallery complete the set.
To complete his first Merzbau located at his house in Hannover, Schwitters had been working for more than 20 years before it fell vitim to an air raid and bombing. His power to innovate has set the scales for future generations of artists and vastly influenced modern pop art, happenings and multimedia art as we know it today.
German Publishers Hatje Cantz have issued a catalogue „Schwitters in England“ – and there is also another artist who has been inspired by his impressive work: in his graphic novel „Herr Merz“ Norwegian comic book writer and illustrating artist Lars Fiske has set a great monument to Kurt Schwitters and his art.