Notes and Further Reading

German artist who was born in Hanover, Germany. Kurt Schwitters was born on 20 June 1887 in Hanover, at Rumannstraße No. Schwitters spent the last one-and-half years of the war working as a drafter in a factory just outside Hanover. He was conscripted into the 73rd Hanoverian Regiment in Notes and Further Reading 1917, but exempted on medical grounds in June of the same year.

By his own account, his time as a draftsman influenced his later work, and inspired him to depict machines as metaphors of human activity. In the war I discovered my love for the wheel and realized that machines are abstractions of the human spirit. He married his cousin Helma Fischer on 5 October 1915. Ernst, was born on 16 November 1918, and was to remain close to his father for the rest of his life, up to and including a shared exile in Britain together. In 1918, his art was to change dramatically as a direct consequence of Germany’s economic, political, and military collapse at the end of the First World War. In the war, things were in terrible turmoil. What I had learned at the academy was of no use to me and the useful new ideas were still unready.

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It was like a revolution within me, not as it was, but as it should have been. Schwitters was to come into contact with Herwarth Walden after exhibiting expressionist paintings at the Hanover Secession in February 1918. Walden’s gallery Der Sturm, in Berlin, in June 1918,. I’m a painter,” he said, “and I nail my pictures together. Schwitters asked to join Berlin Dada either in late 1918 or early 1919, according to the memoirs of Raoul Hausmann. Hausmann’s anecdote about Schwitters asking to join Berlin Dada is, however, somewhat dubious, for there is well-documented evidence that Schwitters and Huelsenbeck were on amicable terms at first.

When they first met in 1919, Huelsenbeck was enthusiastic about Schwitters’s work and promised his assistance, while Schwitters reciprocated by finding an outlet for Huelsenbeck’s Dada publications. In 1922 Theo van Doesburg organised a series of Dada performances in the Netherlands. Various members of Dada were invited to join, but declined. 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. Whilst these works were usually collages incorporating found objects, such as bus tickets, old wire and fragments of newsprint, Merz also included artists’ periodicals, sculptures, sound poems and what would later be called “installations”. As the political climate in Germany became more liberal and stable, Schwitters’ work became less influenced by Cubism and Expressionism. He started to organise and participate in lecture tours with other members of the international avant-garde, such as Hans Arp, Raoul Hausmann and Tristan Tzara, touring Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, and Germany with provocative evening recitals and lectures. Schwitters published a periodical, also called Merz, between 1923 and 1932, in which each issue was devoted to a central theme. 15, 1925, was a typographical children’s story entitled The Scarecrow by Schwitters, Kätte Steinitz and Theo van Doesburg.

His work in this period became increasingly Modernist in spirit, with far less overtly political context and a cleaner style, in keeping with contemporary work by Hans Arp and Piet Mondrian. Thanks to Schwitters’ lifelong patron and friend Katherine Dreier, his work was exhibited regularly in the US from 1920 onwards. Alongside his collages, Schwitters also dramatically altered the interiors of a number of spaces throughout his life. 1923, the first room was finished in 1933, and Schwitters subsequently extended the Merzbau to other areas of the house until he fled to Norway in early 1937. Early photos show the Merzbau with a grotto-like surface and various columns and sculptures, possibly referring to similar pieces by Dadaists, including the Great Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama by Johannes Baader, shown at the first International Dada Fair, Berlin, 1920. Photos of the Merzbau were reproduced in the journal of the Paris-based group abstraction-création in 1933-4, and were exhibited in MoMA in New York in late 1936. The Sprengel Museum in Hanover has a reconstruction of the first room of the Merzbau.

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This was almost complete when Schwitters left Norway for the United Kingdom in 1940. It burnt down in 1951 and no photos survive. The poem was influenced by Raoul Hausmann’s poem “fmsbw” which Schwitters heard recited by Hausmann in Prague, 1921. Entartete Kunst, Degenerate Art Exhibition catalogue, 1937, p. On 2 January 1937 Schwitters, wanted for an “interview” with the Gestapo, fled to Norway to join his son Ernst, who had already left Germany on 26 December 1936. His wife Helma decided to remain in Hanover, to manage their four properties.

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Helma visited Schwitters in Norway for a few months each year up to the outbreak of World War II. The joint celebrations for his mother Henriette’s 80th birthday and his son Ernst’s engagement, held in Oslo on 2 June 1939, would be the last time the two met. Merzbau was subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1951. His hut on the Norwegian island of Hjertøya, near Molde, is also frequently regarded as a Merzbau. The camp was situated in a collection of terraced houses around Hutchinson Square in Douglas. The camp soon comprised some 1,205 internees by end of July 1940, almost all of whom were German or Austrian. The camp was soon known as “the artist’s camp”, comprising as it did many artists, writers, university professors and other intellectuals.

Notes and Further Reading

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He was soon provided studio space and took on students, many of whom would later become significant artists in their own right. He produced over 200 works during his internment, including more portraits than at any other time in his career, many of which he charged for. A musty, sour, indescribable stink which came from three Dada sculptures which he had created from porridge, no plaster of Paris being available. The porridge had developed mildew and the statues were covered with greenish hair and bluish excrements of an unknown type of bacteria. Schwitters was well-liked in the camp and was a welcome distraction from the internment they were suffering. Fellow internees would later recall fondly his curious habits of sleeping under his bed and barking like a dog, as well as his regular Dadaist readings and performances. For the outside world he always tried to put up a good show, but in the quietness of the room I shared with him , his painful disillusion was clearly revealed to me.

Notes and Further Reading

Kurt Schwitters worked with more concentration than ever during internment to stave off bitterness and hopelessness. If I stay here, then I have plenty to occupy myself. If I am released, then I will enjoy freedom. If I manage to leave for the U. You carry your own joy with you wherever you go. Letter to Helma Schwitters, April 1941.


Schwitters was finally released on 21 November 1941, with the help of an intervention from Alexander Dorner, Rhode Island School of Design. After obtaining his freedom Schwitters moved to London, hoping to make good on the contacts that he had built up over his period of internment. He first moved to an attic flat at 3 St. He knocked on her door to ask how the boiler worked, and that was that. He called her Wantee, because she was always offering tea. In London he made contact with and mixed with a range of artists, including Naum Gabo, László Moholy-Nagy and Ben Nicholson. During his years in London, the shift in Schwitters’ work continued towards an organic element that augmented the mass-produced ephemera of previous years with natural forms and muted colours.

Pictures such as Small Merzpicture With Many Parts 1945-6, for example, used objects found on a beach, including pebbles and smooth shards of porcelain. In August 1942 he moved with his son to 39 Westmoreland Road, Barnes, London. In October 1943 he learnt that his Merzbau in Hanover had been destroyed in allied bombing. In April 1944 he suffered his first stroke, at the age of 56, which left him temporarily paralyzed on one side of his body. Schwitters first visited the Lake District on holiday with Edith Thomas in September 1942. He moved there permanently on 26 June 1945, to 2 Gale Crescent Ambleside.

However, after another stroke in February of the following year and further illness, he and Edith moved to a more easily accessible house at 4 Millans Park. During his time in Ambleside Schwitters created a sequence of proto-pop art pictures, such as For Käte, 1947, after the encouragement from his friend, Käte Steinitz. 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. He was buried on 10 January at St. One entire wall of the Merzbarn was removed to the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle for safe keeping. The shell of the barn remains in Elterwater, near Ambleside. The language of Merz now finds common acceptance and today there is scarcely an artist working with materials other than paint who does not refer to Schwitters in some way.

In his bold and wide-ranging experiments he can be seen as the grandfather of Pop Art, Happenings, Concept Art, Fluxus, multimedia art and post-modernism. 9 million at Christie’s London in 2014. Schwitters’ son, Ernst, largely entrusted the artistic estate of his father to Gilbert Lloyd, director of the Marlborough Gallery. However, Ernst fell victim to a crippling stroke in 1995, moving control of the estate as a whole to Kurt’s grandson, Bengt Schwitters. Controversy erupted when Bengt, who has said he has “no interest in art and his grandfather’s works”, terminated the standing agreement between the family and the Marlborough Gallery. Professor Henrick Hanstein, an auctioneer and art expert, provided key testimony in the case, stating that Schwitters was virtually forgotten after his death in exile in England in 1948, and that the Marlborough Gallery had been vital in ensuring the artist’s place in art history.

The verdict, which was eventually upheld by Norway’s highest court, awarded the gallery USD 2. Schwitters’ visual work has now been completely catalogued in the Catalogue Raisonné. Brian Eno sampled Schwitters’ recording of Ursonate for the “Kurt’s Rejoinder” track on his 1977 album, Before and after Science. Japanese musician Merzbow took his name from Schwitters. A fictionalised account of Schwitters time in London is the subject of an opera by Michael Nyman and Michael Hastings, Man and Boy: Dada. The German hip-hop band Freundeskreis quoted from his poem “An Anna Blume” in their hit single “ANNA”.

The krautrock band Faust have a song entitled “Dr. Chumbawamba include a decidedly energetic take on Ursonate in their song “Ratatatay”, featured on the album ABCDEFG. The song is about George Melly and in particular his story of spontaneously reciting Ursonate, in order to scare off a pair of robbers who confronted him one evening in Manchester. Einstürzende Neubauten include samples of member N. Unruh reciting Ursonate in the song “Let’s Do It A Dada” on the album Alles wieder offen. Three members of the band British Sea Power were brought up near Schwitters’ home in Cumbria.

They have referenced his work in their songs and used a recording of Ursonate at their live shows. Jan Scott Wilkinson of the band contributed to Tate Britain’s Schwitters retrospective in 2013. Let Us Join Together in a Tune, Umore, Futt Futt Futt” on his album Amerika to Kurt Schwitters. Walter Selke, Christian Heppner: The birthplace of Kurt Schwitters in Hanover, in: Hannoversche Geschichtsblätter, vol. Colin Morton: The Merzbook: Kurt Schwitters Poems”. 1937, directly below the phrase ‘Nehmen Sie Dada Ernst’, and was presumably destroyed by the Nazis shortly afterward.

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25, Haymon Verlag, Innsbruck 1992, p. Raoul Hausmann, Am Anfang war Dada, 3rd edition, ed. 22, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern, 2000, no. Total Vision of the World, exhibition catalogue, Museum Tinguely, Basel 2004, p. What Would Life be Without Merz? From Kurt Schwitters to the Present Day, exhibition catalogue, Sprengel Museum Hannover, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2000. For a more detailed overview of the Merz journals, see Roger Cardinal and Gwendolen Webster, Kurt Schwitters, Hatje Cantz 20011, p 132-5.

See Roger Cardinal and Gwendolen Webster, Kurt Schwitters, Hatje Cantz 20011, p 136-9. Hannah Höch, Eine Lebenscollage, Part II, vol. 2, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 1995, p. Kurt Schwitters Merzbau in Hanover 1933 Archived 23 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013.

Archived from the original on 16 February 2006. See the Kurt Schwitters Project at Henie Ostad art centre in Norway “Archived copy”. For a comprehensive account of this period, see Gwendolen Webster, ‘Kurt Schwitters on the Lofoten islands’, Kurt Schwitters Society Journal 2011, p. Kurt Schwitters: the modernist master in exile”.

Island of Barbed Wire, Connery Chappel, Corgi Books, London, 1986, p. The Forced Journeys: Artists in Exile in Britain, c. Ernst Schwitters’ letter in Art and News Review, Saturday 25 October 1958, Vol X, No. Merzbarn Archived 26 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.

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The site has now been purchased from its former owners and will house a digital replica of the wall in Newcastle, and, eventually, a Kurt Schwitters study centre. Learn More: The Merz Barn by Kurt Schwitters”. Catalogue by claudia zanfi, exhibition Milan 2003″. Archived from the original on 5 March 2012. Record set for Schwitters in Christie’s sale Financial Times.

British Sea Power’s Yan on Kurt Schwitters Tate. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kurt Schwitters. Cardinal, Roger and Gwendolen Webster, Kurt Schwitters, Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 2011. The Triumph of Kurt Schwitters, Armitt Trust Ambleside, 2005.

Kurt Schwitters, Thames and Hudson, London 1985. The Cultures of Collecting, Reaktion Books, London 1994. The Game of Meaning: Collage, Montage, And Parody In Kurt Schwitters’ Merz. Montage And Violence In Weimar Culture: Kurt Schwitters’ Reassembled Individuals. Contemplating Violence: Critical Studies in Modern German Culture. With contributions by Peter Bissegger, Stefano Boeri, Dietmar Elger, Yona Friedman, Thomas Hirschhorn, Karin Orchard, Gwendolen Webster. Kurt Schwitters, poems, performance, pieces, proses, play poetics, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 1993.

Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau’ doctoral dissertation, Open University 2007. Kurt Schwitters and Katherine Dreier in German Life and Letters 1999, vol. From Kurt Schwitters to the Present Day, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2000. Exhibition catalogue, Kurt Schwitters, Galerie Gmurzynska, 1978.

Kurt Schwitters: Portrait of a starving artist”. Banknotes with a face value of 5000 of different currencies. The current banknotes of the Swiss franc series possess at least eighteen security features. National banknotes are generally legal tender, meaning that medium of payment is allowed by law or recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. The idea of using a durable lightweight substance as evidence of a promise to pay a bearer on demand originated in Roma, Roman promissory notes dated 57 AD have been found in London. Counterfeiting, the forgery of banknotes, is an inherent challenge in issuing currency.

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It is countered by anticounterfeiting measures in the printing of banknotes. Paper currency first developed in Tang Dynasty China during the 7th century, although true paper money did not appear until the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty. The usage of paper currency later spread throughout the Mongol Empire. The perception of banknotes as money has evolved over time. Originally, money was based on precious metals.

Banknotes were seen by some as an I. Song Dynasty Jiaozi, the world’s earliest paper money. Development of the banknote began in the Tang Dynasty during the 7th century, with local issues of paper currency, although true paper money did not appear until the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty. Before the use of paper, the Chinese used coins that were circular, with a rectangular hole in the middle. Several coins could be strung together on a rope. Merchants in China, if they became rich enough, found that their strings of coins were too heavy to carry around easily. To solve this problem, coins were often left with a trustworthy person, and the merchant was given a slip of paper recording how much money they had with that person.

By 960 the Song Dynasty, short of copper for striking coins, issued the first generally circulating notes. A note is a promise to redeem later for some other object of value, usually specie. The issue of credit notes is often for a limited duration, and at some discount to the promised amount later. The central government soon observed the economic advantages of printing paper money, issuing a monopoly right of several of the deposit shops to the issuance of these certificates of deposit. By the early 12th century, the amount of banknotes issued in a single year amounted to an annual rate of 26 million strings of cash coins.

A Yuan dynasty printing plate and banknote with Chinese and Mongol words. Even before this point, the Song government was amassing large amounts of paper tribute. 1,500,000 sheets of paper in seven different varieties to the capital at Kaifeng. The size of the workforce employed in these paper money factories were quite large, as it was recorded in 1175 AD, that the factory at Hangzhou alone employed more than a thousand workers a day.