The Artist Birthday Series

Kurt Schwitters

2-anna-blume

Schwitters asked to join Berlin Dada either in late 1918 or early 1919, according to the memoirs of Raoul Hausmann. Hausmann claimed that Richard Huelsenbeck rejected the application because of Schwitters’ links to Der Sturm and to Expressionism in general, which were seen by the Dadaists as hopelessly romantic and obsessed with aesthetics. Ridiculed by Huelsenbeck as ‘the Caspar David Friedrich of the Dadaist Revolution’, he would reply with an absurdist short story Franz Mullers Drahtfrühling, Ersters Kapitel: Ursachen und Beginn der grossen glorreichen Revolution in Revon published in Der Sturm (xiii/11, 1922), which featured an innocent bystander who started a revolution ‘merely by being there’.

"Das Und Bild," 1919
“Das Und Bild,” 1919

Hausmann’s anecdote about Schwitters asking to join Berlin Dada is, however, somewhat dubious, for there is well-documented evidence that Schwitters and Huelsenbeck were on amicable terms at first. When they first met in 1919, Huelsenbeck was enthusiastic about Schwitters’s work and promised his assistance, while Schwitters reciprocated by finding an outlet for Huelsenbeck’s Dada publications. When Huelsenbeck visited him at the end of the year, Schwitters gave him a lithograph (which he kept all his life). It was not until mid-1920 that the two men fell out, either because of the success of Schwitters’s poem ‘An Anna Blume‘ (which Huelsenbeck considered unDadaistic) or because of quarrels about Schwitters’ contribution to Dadaco, a projected Dada atlas edited by Huelsenbeck.

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