Kurt Schwitters Facts

Kurt Schwitters was a German artist. Although he produced works of poetry, painting, sculpture, and graphic design, he is best known for his works of collage.

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Facts About Kurt Schwitters

  • Kurt Schwitters was born in 1887 in Hannover, Germany.
  • In 1901, as a teenager, he experienced his first epileptic fit.
  • He studied art at the Dresden Academy, and then he began a career as an artist, initially as a post-impressionist.
  • His work became more expressionist as World War I progressed.
  • Although Kurt Schwitters was conscripted into the 73rd Hanoverian Regiment in 1917, he was exempted due to his epilepsy. During World War I, he worked as a draftsman in a factory.
  • The style of work he produced changed dramatically in the years following the end of World War I.
  • Kurt Schwitters produced his first abstract collages in 1919. He called these works Merz (after text appearing on one of the paper fragments).
  • In his collages, Kurt Schwitters included fragments of found objects, personal items (such as tickets, and items given to him by friends), and pieces of newspaper.

I could see no reason why used tram tickets, bits of driftwood, buttons and old junk from attics and rubbish heaps should not serve well as materials for paintings; they suited the purpose just as well as factory-made paints.

Kurt Schwitters
  • From 1923 to 1937, he worked on an ambitious 3-D construction at his Hanover studio. It started out as a single column, but soon expanded to fill his enitr working and living space with a series of angular pillars, caves, and grottoes. He called this work Merzbau.
  • From 1937-1948, Kurt Schwitters and his son fled Germany for Norway to avoid being arrested by the Gestapo. his wife remained in Germany to manage their four properties.
  • When the Nazi’s invaded Norway in 1940, Kurt Schwitters moved to Leith in Scotland before being relocated to Hutchinson Camp in Douglas in the Isle of Man.
  • During his internement, Kurt Schwitters produced more than 200 works of art.
  • He was released from the internment camp in 1941, and he moved to London.
  • In London, he was in contact with the artists Ben Nicholson, Naum Gabo, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.
  • During this period of his career, Kurt Schwitters started to incorporate more natural elements into his work, including pebbles, and sea-worn pottery.
  • In 1944, Kurt Schwitters suffered a stroke, and he learned that his wife had died of cancer in Germany.
  • He moved to the Lake District in 1947, and he died in 1948 on the day after he had received the news that he had been granted British citizenship. He was sixty years old.
  • The artists Damien Hirst, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi, Ed Ruscha, and Al Hansen, have all said that Kurt Schwitters has influenced their work.
  • In 2014, one of Kurt Schwitters’ 1920s works, Ja-Was?-Bild (an abstract composition combining paper, cardboard, fabric, wood, and nails), sold at auction for just under £14 million.