Schwitters, Kurt

BORN 20 Jun 1887, Hannover, Niedersachsen - DIED 8 Jan 1948, Kendal, Cumbria: Hospital
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Hannover, Niedersachsen: Stadtfriedhof Engesohde, Orli-Wald-Allee 2 (Abteilung 06, Nummer 95 a-d)

Kurt Schwitters was the son of Edward Schwitter who had a ladies' clothing shop. His father sold his shop in 1898. In 1901 they moved to the Waldstrasse where Schwitters would construct his Merzbau in later years.

He studied at the Academy in Dresden together with Otto Dix and Georg Grosz. Back in Hanover he worked as a painter in a post impressionist style. In 1915 he married his cousin Helma Fischer. Because he suffered from epileptic seizures he wasn't forced to enter the army until late in First World War. Soon he was sent home because he was unfit. In 1918 his second son Ernst was born. His first son had died soon after his birth in 1915.

He exhibited abstract works at the Secession in Hanover in 1918 and in Berlin, where he met Hans Arp and others. In late 1918 he produced his first abstract collages that he called Merz because of a text fragment in his "Merzbild". His fame was rising, but he was refused to be a member of the Dadaists in Berlin because they considered his work too romantic. His work was included in Dada exhibitions and publications anyway.

Between 1923 and 1932 he published his periodical "Merz". Hans Arp and his friend El Lissitsky were among the contributors. He also made himself a name as a topographer. He gradually transformed the family house in Hanover into 'The Merzbau'.

In 1937 the Gestapo wanted to interview him and he fled from Germany to Norway. His Merz work was included in the Entartete Kunst exhibition. In 1943 the Merzbau in Hanover was destroyed by bombs. In his house in Lysaker in Norway he did something similar but this house burnt down in 1951.

He was interned for a while at the Lofoten Islands before he fled to Scotland. Because he was a German he was interned in Scotland and England and then for one and a half year on the Isle of Man. In 1941 he was released and lived for a while in London. Helma died in Germany of cancer in 1944 and in 1945 he moved to the Lake District with his new girlfriend Edith Thomas. There he created his third Merzbau, called the Merzbarn, in Elterwater, Cumbria. This Merzbau was unfinished at the time of his death in 1948.

He was buried in an unmarked grave in Ambleside until in 1966 a stone was erected. The stone is still there, but his remains were transferred to Hanover in 1970.

Related persons
• had work owned by Arp-Hagenbach, Marguerite


The grave of Kurt Schwitters at Stadtfriedhof Engesohde, Hanover.
Picture by Androom (17 Dec 2012)


• Aubert, Joachim, Handbuch der Grabstätten berühmten Deutscher, Österreicher und Schweizer, Deutscher Kunstverlag, München, 1973
Kurt Schwitters - Wikipedia

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Published: 13 May 2010
Last update: 15 Mar 2022