Kurt Schwitters

Born 1887, Hannover, Germany

Died 1958, Kendall, England


1908-1909   Attends the Kunstgewerbeschule in Hannover.

1909-1914   Studies at the Kunstakademie Dresden.

1917   Serves as a draftsman in the military.  Begins experimenting with Cubism and Expressionism.

1918   Creates his first collages.

1919   Invents the term “Merz,” which he uses to describe all his creative activities, ranging from poetry to collage.  Becomes friends with Jean Arp and Raoul Hausmann.  Creates his first Merzbilder, exhibits at Der Sturm gallery in Berlin, and publishes his first writings for the Der Sturm periodical.

1920   Exhibits at the Société Anonyme.

1922   Attends the Kongress der Konstructivisten in Weimar.  Meets Theo van Doesburg, who introduces him to De Stijl principles.

1923   Creates his first Merzbau, a structure he would work on for a number of years.  He also works in typography during this year.

1923-1932   Publishes the magazine Merz.   

1929   Takes part in the exhibition Abstrakte und surrealistische Malerei und Plastik at the Kunsthaus Zürich.

1930   Contributes to the Parisian review Cercle et Carré.

1932   Joins the Paris-based Abstraction-Création group.

1936   Participates in the Cubism and Abstract Art and Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

1937   His works are banned by the Nazi regime as “degenerate art.”  Schwitters flees to Lysaker, Norway and constructs a second Merzbau.  

1940   Escapes to Great Britain once the Nazis invade Norway.  He is interred for over a year.  

1945   After his release, moves London, then to Little Langdale in the Lake District.  

1947   Works on a third Merzbau with a stipend from the Museum of Modern Art.  He dies in 1948  before completing the project.