The Artist Birthday Series

Kurt Schwitters

An aerial view of a district of Hanover, Germany after severe Allied bombing raids.
An aerial view of a district of Hanover, Germany after severe Allied bombing raids.

Schwitters later created a similar environment in the garden of his house in Lysaker, near Oslo, known as the Haus am Bakken (the house on the slope). This was almost complete when Schwitters left Norway for the United Kingdom in 1940. It burnt down in 1951 and no photos survive. The last Merzbau, in Elterwater, Cumbria, England, remained incomplete on Schwitters’ death in January 1948.

Schwitter's third "Merzbau," in Cumbria, England, was not completed before his death.
Schwitter’s third “Merzbau,” in Cumbria, England, was not completed before his death.

Schwitters composed and performed an early example of sound poetry, Ursonate (1922–32; a translation of the title is Original Sonata or Primeval Sonata). The poem was influenced by Raoul Hausmann’s poem “fmsbw” which Schwitters heard recited by Hausmann in Prague, 1921. Schwitters first performed the piece on 14 February 1925 at the home of Irmgard Kiepenheuer in Potsdam. He subsequently performed it regularly, both developing and extending it. He published his notations for the recital in the last Merz periodical in 1932, although he would continue to develop the piece for at least the next ten years.

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