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Merzbau (1933)

The poet and visual artist Kurt Schwitters called the room-filling work of art Merzbau , which he probably began to erect in his apartment in Hanover in 1923 .


The ultimately gigantic installation of the Merzbau with assemblage character began in Schwitters' studio and grew into the neighboring rooms of the apartment and beyond the floor over the years until he moved to Norway in 1937. In the summer of 1932, Schwitters tackled another Merz building in a hut on the Norwegian island of Hjertøya near Molde . He made annual trips to Norway from 1930 until he decided in 1937 to remain in exile there. In the same year he began his third Merzbau, the house on Bakken in Lysaker near Oslo . The fourth he finally created in 1947 in exile in England in the barn of farmer Harry Pierce in Elterwater ( Lake District ), he gave it the name "Merz Barn".

None of these works has been completely preserved. The Merzbau in Hanover, along with Schwitters' house, was destroyed by an incendiary bomb in an air raid on Hanover in 1943. Today only a reconstruction can be seen in the Sprengel Museum Hanover. The house at Bakken in Lysaker burned down in 1951, and the hut on Hjertøya fell into disrepair for decades, so that only parts of this Merz building still exist. The Henie Onstad Art Center in Høvikodden (near Oslo ) now wants to preserve this remnant, with the prospect of exhibiting it in the Romsdalmuseum (Norwegian Romsdalsmuseet ) in Molde in the Moldefjord , not far from the island in the fjord. Merz Barn, which was unfinished when Schwitters died in 1948, was a place of pilgrimage for young artists for a long time - the pop artists of the 1960s in particular were interested in Schwitters' collage technique before it gained wider attention. Schwitters had only been able to finish one wall. In 1965, the artist Richard Hamilton arranged for it to be removed and brought to the Hatton Gallery of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne , where it has been on display ever since. There is also a replica of the barn in the courtyard of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, which was built there as part of the “Modern British Sculpture” exhibition. The Littoral (Arts Trust) association takes care of the original, which was left to decay after the finished wall was removed. In 2006 he bought the barn and farm in order to restore and maintain both. It is planned to turn the area into a cultural center, with the Schwitters factory at the center.


The Japanese noise musician Masami Akita derives the name of his project Merzbow , in which he follows the principle of collage, from Merz art and Merz construction. Since Akita uses pornographic material for Merzbow, he sees a special connection in the fact that Schwitters called his Merzbau in Hanover the “cathedral of erotic misery”.


  • Karin Orchard / Isabel Schulz: Kurt Schwitters Catalog raisonné . Published by Sprengel Museum Hannover, Vol. 1, 2000: ISBN 3-7757-0926-6 / Vol. 2, 2003: ISBN 3-7757-0988-6 / Vol. 3, 2006: ISBN 3-7757-0989- 4 .
  • Adrian Notz, Hans Ulrich Obrist (Eds.): Merz World - Processing the Complicated Order . With contributions by Stefano Boeri, Peter Bissegger, Dietmar Elger, Yona Friedman, Thomas Hirschhorn, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Karin Orchard and Gwendolen Webster. Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-905701-37-1
  • Wolfgang Müller: Starlings in Hjertoya sing Kurt Schwitters . Catalog and CD, Berlin 2000.

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