b. Hanover, Germany, 20 June 1887 – d. Ambleside, Germany, 8 January 1948
Closely connected with both the Dada movement which flourished in Germany throughout the 1920s, and, later, Constructivism, the artist and poet Kurt Schwitters based his visual vocabulary on materials of all shapes and sizes, which he substituted for pigments in order to construct unique compositions. Eschewing traditional painting, he created innovative collages from salvaged objects as part of his first Merz pieces. The distinctive way in which his assemblages played with colour and form testifies to his vital contribution to the avant-garde movement. From 1920 onwards, Schwitters expanded his conception of all-encompassing Merz art, notably venturing into the realms of architecture, theatre, and poetry.
In 1937, he was condemned as a “degenerate” artist by the Nazis, and fled to Norway, later moving to the United Kingdom. During the 1994-95 season, the Pompidou Centre hosted an extensive exhibition on his work, as did the Tinguely Museum in 2004. His works feature among the collections of some of most renowned museums in the world including the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate in London, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, to name but a few.