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Kurt Schwitters
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    (June 20, 1887-January 6, 1948)
    Born in Hanover, Germany
    Painter, sculptor and collagist
    Works include ‘Das Unbild’ (1919), ‘Oval Construction’ (1925), ‘Merzbau’ (1923-37), ‘Small Merzpicture with Many Parts’ (1946) and ‘Merzbarn’ (1947-48)
    Published the art periodical ‘Merz’ (1923-32)
    Wrote the poems ‘An Anna Blume’ (1919) and ‘Ursonate’ (1932)
    He had four middle names (Hermann, Eduard, Karl and Julius).
    He married his first cousin.
    He adopted ‘Merz’ as a name for his art movement (and occasionally as his own name) from a fragment of text in one of his collages.
    He frequently slept under his bed and barked like a dog.
    His grave went unmarked for nearly two decades.
    Forgeries of his works show up regularly on eBay.
    His first son died a week after birth (1916).
    His work was included in the Nazis’ ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition.
    He fled for Norway after the Gestapo asked to ‘interview’ him (1937).
    After the German invasion of Norway (1940), he escaped to Britain.
    He was detained as an ‘enemy alien’ for a year on the Isle of Man, where he was popular as an artist, teacher and raconteur.
    He continued producing artworks while detained, showing ingenuity in creating supplies, such as mixing brick dust with sardine oil to create paints.
    He is considered a grandfather of the Pop Art movement.
    He influenced Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Joseph Beuys.
    A recording of him reading his ‘sound poem’ ‘Ursonate’ was sampled by Brian Eno for the album ‘Before and After Science.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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