Saturday, 6 August 2011

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948).

Das Undbild (1919)
Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters was a German artist whose career spanned Dada, Surrealism, sculpture and graphic design, though he is best known for his Merz Pictures collages and his Merzbau.

He started out as a post-impressionist until his work assumed a darker tone and moved towards expressionism. His first collages appeared in 1918 constructed of everyday objects. He gave his work the word Merz, a meaningless word which he derived from the German kommerzbank (commercial bank). He produced a periodical, also called Merz, with each issue devoted to a specific artistic theme. And he wrote poetry with the emphasis on the sounds that the words made rather than on their sense or meaning.

His most famous work, and one of the legends of modern art and which the artist himself described as his life work, is his Merzbau (Merz building), an architectural-sculptural project which extended over several room of his house in Hanover. He began the project in 1923 and continued working on it until he fled Nazi Germany in January 1937. In 1943 his house and his creation were destroyed in an Allied bombing raid.

The artist fled Norway in 1940 when it was occupied by the Germans, and came to Scotland and then England, where he died in 1948. 

Merzbau photographed in 1933

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