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Summary Article: Schwitters, Kurt (1887–1948)
from The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers

Artist, typographer and poet. Born in Hanover, Germany. From 1909–14 studied at the Academy of Dresden, followed by a brief period at the Academy in Berlin. He was a potent force in the development of German dada, applying the principle of random choice to his ‘Merz’ collage designs of ephemera and rubbish. First produced in 1919, these compositions enabled him to produce art from non-traditional art materials. In 1922 Schwitters took part in the International Congress of Constructivists and Dadaists in Weimar, a year later publishing the first issue of his famous merz magazine. Featuring the work of progressive artists such as Hans Arp, Théo van doesburg, Piet Mondrian, Man ray, Walter gropius, and El lissitzky, Merz ran for twenty-four issues up to 1932. Merz 11 (1924) featured typography in advertising. Throughout the 1920s he became increasingly influenced by the principles of constructivism, applying them to his art and his flourishing graphic design practice in Hanover. Along with Jan tschichold and others formed the ‘Ring neue Werbegestalter’ (Circle of the New Advertising Typographer) in 1927. In 1929 worked as a typographer, under Gropius, on the Dammerstock modern housing exhibition in Karlsruhe. Following persistent Nazi persecution he lost his post as advisor on typography and advertising to the City of Hanover in 1934. Three years later left Germany for Oslo, escaping to Scotland after the German invasion of Norway in 1940. Moved to the Lake District, England, in 1945, where he remained until his death. See also colour section

Thames & Hudson © 2012

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