Saturday, September 22, 2018

Wayne F. Burke writes


never missed with
his scraps of torn paper
into little worlds;
theater ticket stubs, doilies, bank notes,
cigar wrappers
balanced and
chaos captured,
banality beautified--
not merde.

Merzbild 32 A. Das Kirschbild (Merz Picture 32 A. The Cherry Picture) -- Kurt Schwitters

1 comment:

  1. After studying art in Dresden, Kurt Hermann Eduard Karl Julius Schwitters began painting in his native Hannover. During World War I he was a draftsman at a factory, where he “discovered my love for the wheel and realized that machines are abstractions of the human spirit." After the war he became influenced by the German avant-garde. Upon meeting the Austrian Dada artist Raoul Hausmann he introduced himself, saying, "I'm a painter, and I nail my pictures together." He created his art from scraps and objects he collected from the streets, then carefully composed and affixed them with glue and nails to a painted board. One of his early collages featured the last part of the German word “Kommerz” (commerce), leading to the coinage of “Merz” to describe his work. “Everything had broken down in any case and new things had to be made out of the fragments;” so he sought “to create connections, preferably between everything in this world.” His “Merz Picture 32A” uses light and dark paint on the board to form the base of the collage and give an illusion of depth; then various fabrics, an image of kittens, candy wrappers, newspaper clippings, and a flashcard of cherries, onto which Schwitters penciled the ungrammatical phrase “Ich liebe dir!” (“I love she!”), are fastened on the board, along with 3-dimensional objects, including a broken pipe. On 2 January 1937, to avoid an "interview" with the Geheime Staatspolizei (“Gestapo,” Secret State Police) due to his “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art), he fled to Norway. After the Nazis invaded Norway in April 1940 he was jailed briefly, then fled to Scotland. Designated as an “enemy alien” by the British, he was internedin Douglas on the Isle of Man in July. Hutchinson Camp held 1,200 detainees, including many artists, writers, professors, and other intellectuals. Schwitters obtained studio space (and students, several of whom become significant artists) and produced over 200 works. Due to a shortage of art supplies, internees made paint by mixing brick dust with sardine oil and ripped up linoleum from the floors to cut up and squeeze through clothes wringers to make linocut prints. Fred Uhlman, one of his fellow prisoners, recalled the sculptures Schwitters made from porridge: "The room stank. A musty, sour, indescribable stink.... The porridge had developed mildew and the statues were covered with greenish hair and bluish excrements of an unknown type of bacteria." On 21 November 1941 Schwitters was the last artist released, and he moved to London. In 1945 he moved to Ambleside in Cumbria, at the head of Windermere, England's largest natural lake, and continued to produce artwork. On 7 January 1948 he received the news that he had been granted British citizenship but died from acute pulmonary edema and myocarditis the next day.
    "Merde" is French for shit.


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