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Bernard Jacobson Gallery



Kurt Schwitters: Collages and Assemblages 1920-1947
28 January - 3 April 2013

"I could see no reason why used tram tickets, bits of driftwood, buttons and old junk from attics and rubbish heaps should not serve well as materials for paintings; they suited the prupose just as well as factory-made paints... It is possible to cry out using bits of old rubbish, and that's what I did, gluing and nailing them together."
-Kurt Schwitters

Bernard Jacobson Gallery is proud to announce its forthcoming exhibition of collages and assemblages by the German painter, sculptor, typographer and writer Kurt Schwitters (1887 Hanover - 1948 Kendal), one of the pioneers of European Modernism. The exhibition will run from 28th January to 3 April 2013 and coincide with the Tate's Schwitters in Britain exhibition opening to the public on 30th January.

Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism. Influenced by Expressionism and Cubism, he created his own form of Dada in Hanover called Merz, after the syllable 'merz' taken from an ad for the Kommerz- und Privatbank. Merz soon became a catch-all phrase to describe all of his creative activities covering not only art, but also abstract drama and poetry, cabaret, music, photography and architecture. He was a noted performer and a prolific writer, also publishing the innovative Merz journal that appeared intermittently from 1923-32.

Schwitters is most famous for his abstract collages which he began to make in the winter of 1918/19 using found and everyday objects such as labels, bus tickets, fabric and bits of broken wood. They were born out of his post-war feeling: 'Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz.'

The exhibition will comprise around twenty works dating from 1920 to 1947. Highlights include his collages from the 1920s such as Untitled (Katan or 703), c.1921; Mz 26, 45 Sch., 1925-26 and JOS.MA, 1927. Works from this period are characterized by a gradual move to more rectilinear, simpler compositions with cleaner, sharper lines and the use of large blocks of single colours, taking inspiration from the new generation of Constructivists from Eastern Europe and the Netherlands, especially his friends El Lissitzky and Theo van Doesburg. 

Other highlights include later works such as Collage with playing card, 1940 and C50 Last Birds and Flowers, 1946, incorporating fragments from packaging and newspapers reflecting British life as well as assemblages such as Eye on Cheese, 1944-47 and Golf Tee, 1947 incorporating organic material and objects found on a beach, such as wax, drift wood and pebbles, replacing the mass produced ephemera of previous years reflecting his move away from London to rural Cumbria in 1945. 

Schwitters' undogmatic and non-elitist art, by elevating the rejected, the discarded and the useless to fine art, inspired such post-war pioneers as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton and Joseph Beuys; and he is now seen as the grandfather of many post-1945 art movements, from Pop Art to Conceptual, Installation and Performance Art.

Work by Kurt Schwitters can be seen in many art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Centre Pompidou in Paris; Museum Ludwig in Cologne; the Tate in London and the Armitt Museum in Ambleside. The largest and most important collection of his work, along with a reconstruction of the first Merzbau room, can be found in the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany, which also has an extensive Kurt Schwitters archive.

Schwitters in Britain can be seen at Tate Britain, London, from 30th January to 12th May 2013. The exhibition focuses on the artist's British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948 and includes over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures.

Notes to Editors

Bernard Jacobson Gallery was founded in 1969, publishing and distributing prints by artists including Robyn Denny, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff, Henry Moore, Richard Smith, Ed Ruscha and William Tillyer. By the mid 1970s, having established himself as one of the major dealers in the international print boom, Jacobson began to show paintings and sculpture. The early 1980s saw the gallery open branches in Los Angeles and New York, expanding the range of international artists to include West Coast American artists such as Joe Goode and Larry Bell as well as modern British masters such as David Bomberg, Ivon Hitchens, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland. From 1997, the gallery moved more firmly into American and international art, with shows of artists such as Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons and Frank Stella. Recently, the gallery has held shows by the American artists Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, while European painters include Bram Bogart and Pierre Soulages and British artists William Tillyer, Bruce McLean and Marc Vaux.

In 2011 the gallery opened a new space in New York on East 71st Street with an inaugural exhibition entitled 60 Years of British Art followed by 21 Americans, the latter showing work by major American artists including Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. Bernard Jacobson Gallery also has a strong presence at major international art fairs participating at The Armory Show, New York; Expo Chicago; Frieze Masters, London; and the prestigious Art Basel fairs in Hong Kong, Basel, and Miami Beach.

For further information and images, please contact Charlotte Gibbs on Tel 020 7734 3431 or charlotte@jacobsongallery.com

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Exhibition title: Kurt Schwitters: Collages and Assemblages 1920 to 1947

Dates: 28 January - 3 April 2013

Location: 6 Cork Street, London W1S 3NX | Tel. +44 (0)20 7734 3431 | www.jacobsongallery.com; mail@jacobsongallery.com

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am - 6pm; Saturday 11am - 1pm