kurt schwitters collage techniques
This wall forms part of the third and last Merzbau (or sculptural installation), constructed by the celebrated collagist Kurt Schwitters in his Lake District barn. It is now on permanent display in Newcastle University’s Hatton Gallery.
In Hanover, the Dada spirit was embodied by a single man, Kurt Schwitters, trained under the sign of expressionnism but who, as early as 1918, had renounced figurative games to create a highly personal plastic grammar, substituting all kinds of rubbish found in public garbage dumps for noble pigments. All these cast off materials were transformed by him into admirable compositions in which colours and volumes made mysterious alliances. He called these strange paintings Merzbilder (after the central syllable of Kommerzbank) and named them by numbers in chronological order of their composition.
Merzbild 5B (1919)
However, as World War I (from which he was excluded due to his epilepsy) gradually took hold, his work became more expressionist in tone. During this time he worked on technical drawings in a machine factory near Hanover. Here, he says, “I discovered my love for the wheel and recognized that machines are abstractions of the human spirit.” He also married, and had two sons. The first, Gerd, died shortly after birth; the second, Ernst, was to become a famous photographer and remained close to his father all his life.
Merz Picture 32A belongs to the so-called Merz series, a term Schwitters made up by cutting a scrap from the second syllable of the German word вЂњKommerzвЂќ (commerce), which he included in one of his early collage paintings. Schwitters was trained as a painter, but as World War I came to an end he adopted collage as his preferred process, saying, вЂњEverything had broken down in any case and new things had to be made out of the fragments.вЂќ 1 В With his Merz project he aimed вЂњto create connections, preferably between everything in this world.вЂќ
Kurt Schwitters made this work from scraps and objects he collected from the streets of his hometown of Hanover, Germany. Although he scavenged the fragments, Schwitters carefully composed and affixed them with glue and nails to a painted board to make this collage. Merz Picture 32A. The Cherry Picture has many layers: light and dark paint on the board form the base of the collage and give an illusion of depth; affixed to the board are various fabrics, an image of kittens, candy wrappers, newspaper clippings, and a flashcard of cherries, onto which Schwitters penciled the ungrammatical phrase вЂњIch liebe dir!вЂќ (вЂњI love she!вЂќ). Three-dimensional objects, including a broken pipe, protrude from the surface.
Schwitters later created a similar environment in the garden of his house in Lysaker, near Oslo, known as the Haus am Bakken (the house on the slope). This was almost complete when Schwitters left Norway for the United Kingdom in 1940. It burnt down in 1951 and no photos survive. The last Merzbau, in Elterwater, Cumbria, England, remained incomplete on Schwitters’ death in January 1948. A further environment that also served as a living space can still be seen on the island of Hjertøya [no] near Molde, Norway. It is sometimes described as a fourth Merzbau, although Schwitters himself only ever referred to three. The interior has now been removed and will eventually be exhibited in the Romsdal Museum in Molde, Norway. 
In 1918, his art was to change dramatically as a direct consequence of Germany’s economic, political, and military collapse at the end of the First World War.
German Painter, Collagist, and Writer
Directly affected by the depressed state of Germany following World War I, and the modernist ethos of the Dada movement, Kurt Schwitters began to collect garbage from the streets and incorporate it directly into his art work. The resulting collages were characterized by their especially harmonious, sentimental arrangements and their incorporation of printed media. He actively produced artistic journals, illustrated works, and advertisements, as well as founding his own Merz journal. He wrote poems and musical works that played with letters, lacing them together in unusual combinations, as he’d done in the collages, in the hope of encouraging his audience to find their own meanings. His multiple avant-garde efforts culminated in his large merzbau creations. These works, collaborations with other avant-garde artists, would start with one object to which others were added, causing the whole piece to change and evolve over time, growing to great proportions that forced the viewer to actually experience, rather than simply view, the art.