Kurt Schwitters

From Academic Kids

Kurt Schwitters (June 20, 1887 - January 8, 1948) was a German painter who was born in Hannover, Germany.

Schwitters worked in several genres and mediums, including Dada, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, collage, sculpture, and what came to be known as installations.

Contents

Biography and art

Though not a direct participant in Dada activities, he deployed Dada ideas in his work, such as his Merz works — art pieces built up of found objects into large constructions, or what would later in the 20th century be called installations. The Sprengel Museum in Hanover has a reconstruction of the best known of these installations, called Merzbau, which was a redesign of Schwitters's own apartment in Hanover. The original Merzbau was destroyed in an air raid during World War II. According to Schwitters, merz is derived from the name of the Commerzbank; the word is also notably similar to the French word merde.

A story is told, but untrue, that he attempted to join the network of artists, only to be rejected by the leader of the Berlin movement, Richard Huelsenbeck, on the premise that Schwitters was too bourgeois for Dada.

In 1937, he was included in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art (entartete Kunst) at Munich. Schwitters started a second Merzbau while in exile in Oslo, Norway in 1937 but abandoned it when the Nazis invaded, and this Merzbau was subsequently destroyed in a fire as well.

Schwitters fled to England, and was initially interned in Douglas Camp, Isle of Man. He spent time in London, then moved to the Lake District, where, in 1947, he began work on the last Merzbau, which he called the Merzbarn. This last structure is now in the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle.

He composed and performed an early example of sound poetry, Ursonate (1922-32; the transliteration of the title is Primordial Sonata). Switters also authored the poem An Anna Blume.

Image:kcmsound 22px.png Listen to a short extract from the Ursonate. (160kb; more info)

Switters died in Kendal, England, and was buried in Ambleside. His grave was unmarked until 1966 when a stone was erected with the inscription Kurt Schwitters Creator of Merz. The stone remains as a memorial even though his body was later disinterred and reburied in Hannover, Germany, the grave being marked with a marble copy of his 1929 sculpture Die Herbstzeitlose.

Legacy

Brian Eno sampled Schwitters recording of Ursonate for the Kurt's Rejoinder track on his 1977 album, Before and After Science.

Japanese musician Merzbow took his name from Schwitters.

External links

Sound art

no:Kurt Schwitters

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