Schwitters, Kurt [key], 1887–1948, German artist, b. Hannover. Influenced by Kandinsky, by Picasso's reliefs, and by Dada constructions, he invented Merz [trash] constructions—arrangements of diverse materials and objects. His superb and pioneering abstract collages are among the most outstanding and inventive creations ever produced in this medium. Schwitters also created gigantic architectural structures out of rubbish and other materials, the most important of which was the large sculptural environment entitled Merzbau, created in the early 1930s. In addition, he was a painter, a poet, an essayist, and a writer of children's stories. Schwitters's art was condemned by the Nazis as “degenerate” and he fled to England, where he lived a hand-to-mouth existence and was finally granted citizenship a day before he died. Schwitters had an enormous influence on post–World War II artists in Europe and the United States.
See I. Schulz, ed., Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage (2010).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: European Art, 1600 to the Present: Biographies