Kurt Schwitters was a German painter, sculptor, typographer, and writer. He was one of the pioneers of European modernism and 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 advertisement for the Kommerz- und Privatbank. Merz soon became a catch-all phrase to describe Schwitters's 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 and published the innovative Merz journal that appeared intermittently between 1923 and 1932. Schwitters is most famous for his abstract collages which he began to make in the winter of 1918 to 1919 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 that 'Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the fragments; and this is Merz'.


Schwitters was born in Hanover in 1887 and died in Kendal in 1948. His work can be found in the collections of some of the world's most renowned art institutions; the largest collection of his work, as well as a reconstruction of the first merz-building - or Merzbau - can be found in Germany's Sprengel Museum Hanover.