ABSTRACTKurt Schwitters (1887-1948), a German born artist, who spentthe last two years of his life in the Lake District. His contribution to thedevelopment of modern art, has been underestimated for a long time. However,for the past two decades as per his predictions, his work has becomeincreasingly more recognised and it continues to influence many artists and architects.
Schwitters created a form of DADA, that he called Merz*. Heoverturned the traditional notion of sculpture and created ‘Merzbau’ or MerzBuilding. Merzbauten were walk in sculptures, a room size installation of builtand found elements, meant to be viewed as a single artwork. They were completeenvironments that encompassed the visitor, and in his lifetime, he createdthree; Hanover, begun around 1930, destroyed by allied bombs in 1943: Lysaker,Haus am Bakken, begun 1937, destroyed by fire in 1951: and Elterwater, MerzBarn, begun 1947, never completed. In 1934 he worked on a primitive hut in onthe island of Hjertoya in Moldefjord, Norway. Merzhytte, never really regardedas a Merzbau itself, but is very similar in form to the Merz Barn in Elterwater.Schwitters worked on the Merz Barn for the last year of hislife, in deteriorating health, and it was never complete.
Set in Harry Pierce’slandscape project, the Cylinders Estate, in Elterwater, Lake District. Afterhis death, his work in the Merz Barn was wearing away due to weather conditionsand in 1965 the Merz Barn wall was moved to Hatton Gallery, Newcastle. AfterHarry Pierce’s death the historical garden and what remains of the Merz Barnfell in ruin, but for the past 12 years the site has been owned by the LittoralArts Trust, who worked hard to save the site from decay. In 2011 The ArtCouncil stopped funding the project, and because it is costly to manage, theproperty has been put up for sale earlier this year.This paper aims to propose means of reconstructing theexisting fragments to form a new ensemble and introduce the function of amuseum/ gallery to the Cylinders State, Cumbria.
Which lines up with theLittoral Art Trust’s initiative, The Merz Barn Project, that aims to: securethe future of the Merz Barn and the surrounding landscape, increase publicaccess and awareness, as well as work as an educational institution for artistsand architects.The reformulation of fragments can be achieved throughestablishing an understanding of:• The artist himself, his life and his views on art, basedof quantitative data extracted from archival resources, published articles,books and online resources. • The site, Cylinders Estate, its history and relevance tothe Merz Barn using unpublished resources from Harry Pierce’s* Archive. As wellas the condition it was found in in 2006, through interviews with Littoral ArtTrust.
• Theories on fragments, ruins and the unfinished inarchitecture. How Schwitters literallyused the ruin and the ruined, fragments of the immediate past, trash, as hismaterial of choice. • Preceding Merzbauten, and their relevance in predicting orimagining Schwitters’ intention for the Merz Barn, by conducting a comparativestudy of each of the Merzbauten that Schwitters created around him in Hanoverand Norway.
KURT SCHWITTERS BIOGRAPHYKurt Schwitters, creator of Merz, born on June 20, 1887 onRumanstrasse, Hanover, Germany and died in exile in the Lake District at just60 years old. His works and ideas crossed a variety of disciplines; he was apoet, painter, sculptor, graphic designer, typographer and a self-publicist. Heshared many of the same interests with the Cubists, Dadaists, Constructivistsand the Surrealists. However, his rejections from the Dadaists and hisconscious decision of separation led him to simultaneously create his ownone-man movement, Merz.
During his lifetime, through his narrow circle of friends,his work was exhibited in different exhibition across Europe and the States. Itis only recently that his work has begun to achieve recognition and criticaljustice, which Schwitters didn’t live to see. He is, nonetheless, one of the artists who had major contribution to Artin the 20th century. Schwitters was an only child; his parents, Eduard andHenriette owned a prosperous clothing store. He suffered from Epilepsy, when hewas 14 he experienced his first epileptic fit and his seizures were said tohave lasted over five hours. Schwitters studied art and drawing at variousinstitutions, including the Hanover School of Applied Arts and the DresdenAcademy of Art.
At this time, the Dresden Academy abhorred modernism and werenot interested in the avant-garde. Schwitters early art was said to be veryconservative and is not remotely related to the way in which it was to developin later years. In 1915, heunsuccessfully tried to establish himself as a painter, and later in the sameyear he married his cousin, Helma Fischer. They lived in a small apartment atthe top of Schwitters’ parents’ house and used to receive financial aid fromHelma’s parents. This is also where Schwitters set up his studio and hecontinued to live and work there until he had to flee Hanover in 1937.Unfortunately, a year after he got married, his first son died at only eightdays of age. However, 1918 witnessed the birth of his second son Ernst as wellas his life defining work, Merz.
Schwitterscould not be enlisted in the armed forces at the start of World War I due tohis epilepsy, but he served as a technical draftsman in a factory just outsideHanover for the last one and a half years of the war, which he detested. Thisperiod is believed to have influenced his later work.In the war Idiscovered my love for the wheel and recognized that machines are abstractionsof the human spirit.