View Full Version : October Artist of the Month: Kurt Schwitters

10-01-2009, 08:44 PM
“My name is Kurt Schwitters and I am an artist and I nail my pictures together.”

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)


Construction for Noble Ladies, 1919, German. Cardboard, wood, metal, and paint

Kurt Schwitters is acknowledged as the twentieth century’s greatest master of collage.

Merz has been called 'Psychological Collage'. Most of the works attempt to make coherent aesthetic sense of the world around Schwitters, using fragments of found objects. These fragments often make witty allusions to current events. (Merzpicture 29a, Picture with Turning Wheel, 1920. for instance, combines a series of wheels that only turn clockwise, alluding to the general drift Rightwards across Germany after the Spartacus Uprising in January that year, whilst Mai 191(9), alludes to the strikes organized by the Bavarian Workers' and Soldiers' Council.) Autobiographical elements also abound; test prints of graphic designs; bus tickets; ephemera given by friends. Later collages would feature proto-pop mass media images. (En Morn, 1947, for instance, has a print of a blonde young girl included, prefiguring the early work of Eduardo Paolzzi and many works seem to have directly influenced Robert Rauschenberg who said after seeing an exhibition of Schwitters' work at the Sidney Janis Gallery, 1959, that "I felt like he made it all just for me.").
He was to use the term Merz for the rest of his career. While these works were usually collages incorporating found objects, such as bus tickets, old wire and fragments of newsprint, Merz also included artist's periodicals, sculptures, sound poems and what would later be called installations.1

Kurt Schwitters experimented with abstract and expressionist painting before becoming involved with the Dada movement, an artistic philosophy based primarily on incongruity, absurdism, and nonsense. Although he associated with the Dadaists and his works shared many similarities to theirs, Schwitters preferred to refer to his own artistic efforts under the separate title "Merz"--a meaningless word Schwitters derived by taking the middle syllable from the German word "kommerzbank" ("commercial bank").2


Merz picture 32A The Cherry Picture,1921

Cut-and-pasted colored and printed paper, cloth, wood, metal, cork, oil, pencil, and ink on paperboard

MoMA biography: http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A5293&page_number=1&template_id=6&sort_order=1#bio

Guggenheim biography: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/show-full/piece/?search=Katherine%20S.%20Dreier%20Bequest&page=1&f=Major%20Acquisition&cr=3



What springs to mind when trying to characterize his personality is one word: 'paradox'. While challenging the world with his collages, his humorous poems and literature, his bourgeois lifestyle amazed all his friends and admirers. The way he dressed was conventional, yet he himself never was. He lived in a bourgeois house inside which he created the most amazing cubistic-constructivist architectural sphere, his so called Merzbau (http://www.merzbau.org/Schwitters.html). 3

"Out of parsimony I took whatever I found . . . . because we were now an impoverished country. New things had to be made out of the fragments."

Poetry (http://capa.conncoll.edu/morton.merzbook.html)

1note (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Schwitters#Merz_.28Periodical.29)
2 note (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0777987/bio)
3 note (http://www.askoxford.com/languages/culturevulture/germany/schwitters/)


previous Artist of the Month threads:
January: Kandinsky (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=538834)
February: Marc Chagall (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=544657)
March: Jacob Lawrence (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=550139)
April: Frida Kahlo (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7732840#post7732840)
May: Damien Hirst (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=561059)
June: Helnwein (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=566527)
July: Alex Janvier (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=571105)
August: Pierre Bonnard (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=576194)
September: Kehinde Wiley (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=581462)

10-01-2009, 11:11 PM
Excellent choice of artists, BlueRiderMan.
I enjoyed meeting him and his wonderful collage work,
as well as reading about his background.
Thank you,,,,

10-03-2009, 02:57 PM
Thank you for telling me about this collage artist Blueriderman. I just spent some very enjoyable time looking through the links and I know I'll look at his work more closely again.
I absolutely love The Cherry Picture!

Diane Cutter
10-03-2009, 06:06 PM
What rich, wonderful work! Thank you for introducing him to me! His work is superb!


10-04-2009, 07:42 PM
And here I thot collage was something new in art...I tease a fellow artist up here in Northern Ontario about his collage works. I call them "arts and crafts," just to tweak his tail a bit.

Collages are not my idea of art, but abstract art is up to the viewer. Some ralists think Impressionism is abstract, so it's in the eye of the beholder. I personally don't understand the rationale in collage.

Are there rules? Is there a theme in a piece or is it random bits of flotsam? Just curious...

10-06-2009, 06:50 PM
Dude, good question. I think the rules of form and composition would still apply. Honestly, I'm no expert on collage art so my opinion has small merit.

I chose Schwitters for this month because I'd very recently been turned on to him by a friend and I thought - wow - he'd make an interesting & different subject for the forum. I thought ppl might like a break from painters, painters and more painters. ;) :D


10-09-2009, 05:00 PM
An interesting artist and a very welcome addition to our year long Artist of the Month series. He shows how a determined artist finds a way to create with whatever media is a available to him or her at the time!

I am particularly drawn to the first image: Construction for Noble Ladies.

Thank you for sharing this artist with us, BlueRiderMan.


10-09-2009, 05:50 PM
For some reason i am drawn to the cherry picture; it embraces me; hopefully that didn't sound strange...Germans are always awesome with the weird metaphoric stuff; blueriderman must be into Expressionism, me would guess...

10-14-2009, 11:37 PM
I was hoping someone could enlighten me about collage, sigh...I am fond of the last one that looks like a cityscape. It looks more organized. My close second is the first one, sorta looks like the lady of justice...kinda...