Collage Eye from the National Gallery
Art Gallery of Alberta
Edmonton AB Sep 8-Nov 4, 2007
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) is considered to be the greatest master of collage in the 20thCentury. As a result of his bold and wide-ranging experiments, he has been positioned as the grandfather of Pop Art, Happenings, Concept Art, Fluxus, multimedia art and post-modernism. His massive and influential output was ultimately curbed by the advent of World War II, during which Schwitters first escaped to Norway and later was interned as an enemy alien in Britain.
Kurt Schwitters, Merz magazine, Volume 2 (1923), [Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB, Sep 8-Nov 4
Schwitters began making assemblages from scraps of refuse in 1919. He cut four letters spelling merz from a word found in an advertisement, and these letters became the conceptual drive behind his work. Merz was a comforting notion involving the delicate positioning of fragments of the world into new combinations. His Merz work took him to the forefront of the European avant-garde and into an alliance with new Dada artists. Over the next ten years, he experimented with Merz drawings and collages, large Merz reliefs, sculpture, abstract drama and poetry, cabaret, typography, multimedia art, body painting, music, photography, a Merzmagazine, an enormous architectural installation using eight rooms of his Hanover house, and eventually an advertising agency. Schwitters died in Englands Lake District shortly after beginning construction of a Merzbarn.
The Art Gallery of Alberta exhibit of works by Schwitters and his contemporaries shows his influence on contemporary artists beyond the borders of Germany in both their adoption of found materials and their collage and assemblage techniques. It considers Schwitters artistic legacy across the 20th century with selections from both the Canadian and international collections of the National Gallery of Canada.