Archive for Merzbau

Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau (1887-1948)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 23, 2010 by schwitters57

Kurt Schwitters was a collage artist living in Hannover, Germany, creating two dimensional collages from found objects, gum wrappers, ciggarette papers, newspapers, ticket stubs, whatever caught his eye. But what Schwitters called his life’s work was the Merzbau which he began in his home in 1923.

The walls and ceiling were covered with a diversity of three – dimensional shapes and the room itself was crowded with materials and objects – or “spoils and relics”, as Schwitters himself put it – which were contained in countless nooks and grottoes, some of them totally obstructed by later additions to the work, with the result that their contents then existed only in one’s memory of the Merzbau in one of its former states. –Zvonimir Bakotin from http://www./

Schwitters began his first Merzbau in his home in Hannover, Germany in1923. It began as an abstract plaster sculpture with apertures dedicated to his dadaist and constructivist friends and containing objects commemorating them: Mondrian, Gabo, Arp, Lissitzky, Malevich, Richter, Mies van der Rohe, and Van Doesburg. The Merzbau grew throughout the 1920’s with successive accretions of every kind of material until it filled the room. Having then no place to go but up, he continued the construction with implacable logic into the second story.

H.H. Arnason, History of Modern Art, 1984.

The most amazing part of Kurt Schwitters story is that he was excluded from the German Dadasts (1918-1923), as though what he was doing was somehow not within the realm of the Dadasts. A listing of the German group includes Raoul Hausmann, & George Grosz, but no others that are particularly well known.  Both Hausmann and Grosz would later go on to claim that they had also created photomontage along the way. This was not the case, as the French had papier colle derived from cubist collage. See Pablo Picasso’s chair w/ caning from 1912, on this site. ABOUT PAGE.