Schwitters in Britain is the first major exhibition to examine the late work of Kurt Schwitters, one of the major artists of European Modernism. The exhibition focuses on his British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948. Schwitters was forced to flee Germany when his work was condemned as ‘degenerate’ by Germany’s Nazi government and the show traces the impact of exile on his work. It includes over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures many shown in the UK for the first time in over 30 years.
Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz – ‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance. Schwitters’s time in Britain was quite extraordinary and continues to reverberate today, with the influence he has exerted over artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Damien Hirst.
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