kurt schwitters famous works of art
Acknowlegements: I am indebted to Gwendolen Webster, Founding President of the Kurt Schwitters Society (UK), for her invaluable assistance in the completion of the above article.
Turns to Collage
Schwitters began studying art at the Dresden Academy in 1909 seeking a traditional career as a painter. In 1915, when he returned to Hanover, his work reflected a post-impressionist style, showing no impact from modernist movements such as cubism.
The Merz collage style is also often called “psychological collage.” Kurt Schwitters’ work avoids non-sensical construction by trying to make sense of the world with a harmonious juxtaposition of found objects. The materials included sometimes made witty references to current events, and other times were autobiographical including bus tickets and items given to the artist by friends.
Letterpress – Museum of Modern Art, New York
Oil, rusted steel, laminate, enamled tin, butterfly, paper, cork, and china, mounted on board – Guggenheim, New York
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.
German Painter, Collagist, and Writer
In March 1947, Schwitters decided to recreate the Merzbau and found a suitable location in a barn at Cylinders Farm, Elterwater, which was owned by Harry Pierce, whose portrait Schwitters had been commissioned to paint. Having been forced by a lack of other income to paint portraits and popularist landscape pictures suitable for sale to the local residents and tourists, Schwitters received notification shortly before his 60th birthday that he had been awarded a £1,000 fellowship to be transferred to him via the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in order to enable him to repair or re-create his previous Merz constructions in Germany or Norway.  Instead he used it for the “Merzbarn” in Elterwater. Schwitters worked on the Merzbarn daily, travelling the five miles between his home and the barn, except for when illness kept him away. On 7 January 1948 he received the news that he had been granted British citizenship. The following day, on 8 January, Schwitters died from acute pulmonary edema and myocarditis, in Kendal Hospital.
Schwitters worked in several genres and media, including dadaism, constructivism, surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography, and what came to be known as installation art. He is most famous for his collages, called Merz Pictures.