The inner sanctum of the Merz Barn is a pleasure to behold. Its unique history is testament to an artist rich in ideas. Where artistic fulfilment took shape in a new found way. Determination, perseverance and a desire to build.
Kurt Schwitters legacy was kept alive by the efforts of Richard Hamilton and is now one entrusted to the Littoral Trust keeping it safe from demolition and developers hands. The original mixed-media mural is now kept at the University of Newcastle’s Hatton Gallery.
Schwitters artistic contribution cannot be overlooked and it’s one to be immensely proud of. The building very much still stands as Schwitters left it in 1948 and as a symbolic, physical memory of the work that was once created here its a significant place that needs to be remembered.
He has since become famous for the amazing installation art he created combining for the first time collage, painting, sculpture, poetry, typography, sound and graphic design, as well as genres from Constructivism, Dadaism to Surrealism.
Merz has been called ‘Psychological Collage’. His work attempted to make a coherent visual sense of the world around him using fragments of found objects. Elements included old wire, test prints of graphic designs, bus tickets and newsprint, as well as animal bones (see my first blog here).
Alongside his collages, Schwitters also dramatically altered the interiors of a number of spaces throughout his life including Merz Barn. Featuring a grotto-style effect with sculptural elements and found materials inserted into it which reflected the environment he was living and working in at the time. Flowers, branches and stone were covered in decorators plaster and paint.
“The word Merz comes from a fragment of print used in one of his collaged Merzbild or Merz pictures: part of the word Commerzbank (Commerce Bank), it reflected the ability of collage to create new meanings as things are removed from their original context.”
The next, and final, blog in this series of research I’m personally undertaking into Kurt Schwitters life and work will take me to Arnitt Museum in Ambleside… coming soon!