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University of the Arts London: Chelsea College of Art and Design

SCHWITTERS, Kurt (1887-1948)


Reference code(s): GB 0000 Schwitters

Held at: University of the Arts London: Chelsea College of Art and Design

Title: SCHWITTERS, Kurt (1887-1948)

Date(s): [1919-1993]

Level of description: Collection (fonds)

Extent: 3 boxes

Name of creator(s): Schwitters | Kurt | 1887-1948 | German artist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born Hanover, 1887; attended the Akademie der Künste, Dresden, 1909-1914; began military service, 1914; studied architecture at the Technische Hochschule, Hanover; influened by Kandinsky and the Dadaists began to experiment with abstract pictures in 1918 using collages, one piece had the letters MERZ and he subsequently described his assemblages as Merz; first exhibition, 1918; began his first Merzbau, a huge construction nearly filling a house (destroyed 1943); participated in the Weimar Dada Congress, 1922; edited Merz magazine, 1923-1932; first performance of Ur-Sonata, non-semantic sound collage, 1924; worked as a commercial designer and typographer for several companies, 1920s; a founder of 'circle of new commercial designers', 1927; member of Abstraction-Création, 1932; emigrated to Norway, 1937; made his second Merzbau (destroyed 1951); escaped Norway to Britain, 1940; began a third Merzbau at Ambleside, Cumbria (unfinished and moved to Newcastle University, 1965); died, 1948.
Publications include: Die Blume Anna. Die neue Anna Blume. Eine Gedichtsammlung aus den Jahren 1918-1922 (Berlin, [1923]); Merz FOLIO poems translated by Jerome Rothenburg and Pierre Joris (Morning Star Publications, Edinburgh, 1991); Die Scheuche. Märchen. typographisch gestaltet with Käte Steinitz (1975) facsimile reprint of Hannover, Aposs-Verlag, 1925.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to Kurt Schwitters, [1919-1993], comprising catalogues of exhibitions of Schwitters' work, largely in Britain and Germany, 1961-1986; invitations to exhibitions, 1963, 1985; pamphlets concerning Schwitters, 1948-1986; press cuttings relating to Schwitters and his work, 1985-1999; recording of Schwitters reading his poem 'An Anna Blume' and 'Die Sonatein Urlauten', 1943; Lord's Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1958; Private view invitations, Lord's Gallery Exhibition, 1958;
coloured getochromes by Schwitters, including from exhibitions, 1919-[1980]; photographs of Schwitters' work from exhibitions in Europe, 1944-1963, including from Lord's Gallery exhibition, 1958;
invoices, letters and price lists relating to exhibitions, 1958-1960; correspondence with Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum concerning Schwitters' work, 1993.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

The items are arranged chronologically.

Conditions governing access:

By written application to the Site Librarian, Manresa Road, London, SW3 6LS. Researchers from the London Institute may visit by appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying is at the discretion of the Librarian.

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

A list is available at Chelsea College of Art and Design Manresa Road Library.


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Existence and location of originals:

Existence and location of copies:

Related material:

Correspondence and files of Schwitters' partner Edith Thomas relating to him, 1920-1990, (reference: TGA 9510), and papers relating to him collected by Klaus Hinrichsen (reference: TGA 959), held by the Tate Gallery Archives.

Publication note:



Archivist's note: Sources: Prestel Dictionary of Art and Artists in the 20th Century (Prestel, Munich, London, New York, 2000); Dictionary of Art and Artists Peter and Linda Murray 7th edition (Penguin, 1997); Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: August 2002

Contemporary art | Art styles
Photographs | Visual materials
Poetry | Literary forms and genres | Literature
Press cuttings | Newspaper press | Press
Works of art | Arts
Fine arts
Movable cultural property

Personal names
Schwitters | Kurt | 1887-1948 | German artist

Corporate names