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  • Kurt Schwitters


    Art Brokerage: Kurt Schwitters German Artist: b. 1887-1948. Kurt Schwitters was born the only child of a tailor and a merchant in Hanover on 20 June 1887. After Realgymnasium, a secondary school emphasizing modern languages, he goes to the local arts and crafts school from 1908 to 1909 and subsequently studies at the art college in Dresden. The long academic education he has in Dresden, primarily under the Frans Hals-oriented Carl Bantzer, seems to prepare for a rather conventional painter's career. Accordingly, his early works display little influence by the modern age. In 1917 the 30 years old artist is called up for military service, which he spends in the orderly room, due to his suffering from epilepsy. He tries to be rated unfit for this service as well and is discharged after four months. The impressions of the war and the inflation make him a modern artist, who even leaves expressionism behind; his first collages emerge in 1918, for which Schwitters uses litter found by chance, such as bus tickets, threads, bits of newspaper, playing cards, wood and similar things. His art and literary texts become a Dadaist institution in Hanover, which he calls "Merz", a fragment of the word "Commerzbank". "Anna Blume", a collection of poems and prosaic texts published in 1919, makes him famous far beyond Hanover's boundaries. He gets in contact with Herwarth Walden, Hans Arp and Tristan Tzara and takes part in the "Sturm"-exhibitions in New York and Zurich. His strong ties to the Bauhaus-artists, the Dutch Dadaists and constructivists, to whom he dedicates the first issue of the "Merz"-magazine in 1923, become important for Schwitters as well. From 1923 on, he works as a commercial artist, graphic designer and typographer for several companies from Hanover and beyond. In 1927 he founds the ring neuer werbegestalter (circle of new commercial artists) together with Cesar Domela, Lázlo Moholy-Nagy and Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, which is also joined by Willi Baumeister and Walter Dexel. Apart from this professional work, he continues the collages and material pictures of the "Merz"-series. In the mid-30's he is successful on an international level for the first time; in 1937 he emigrates to Norway. His exile in Norway is followed by his escape from the German troops to England, where his isolated position, from which he already suffered back in Norway, does not improve significantly. Schwitters died on 8 January 1948 in Ambleside (Westmorland) after a long illness. It is only after his death that his life's work is appreciated internationally. Schwitters was far ahead of his time and strongly influenced the art of assemblage of the neo-dadaist artists, like Robert Rauschenberg for example.

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