Exhibition of the week: Schwitters in Britain, Tate Britain, London SW1
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014.
Friday 01 February 2013
Kurt Schwitters, the pioneering German Dadaist, was misunderstood in his lifetime, at least when it came to the general public.
Tate Britain hopes to change that with this major show of 150 collages, sculptures, paintings and sound poems – some seen in the UK for the first time – focused on the years between his arrival in Britain as an "enemy alien" from Germany in 1940 and his death in Cumbria in 1948.
Schwitters developed the concept of "merz" in the 1920s: the idea that any object could be transformed into artistic material if used in the right way. So, a pebble or a piece of corrugated cardboard became as legitimate as oil paint in an artwork.
In the mid-1940s, inspired by the rural landscape, he began to incorporate natural objects into his work. His concept of merz developed and prefigured the British Pop Art movement, and his legacy, according to Tate Britain director, Penelope Curtis, "begins with Richard Hamilton and continues through to Damien Hirst".
(020 7887 8888; tate.org.uk) to 12 May
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