Multimedia artist, Kurt Schwitters was born in Hannover, Germany in 1887. Plagued by epileptic attacks, he was insecure and introverted as a child. He studied at the Dresden Academy of Art and, after establishing contact with Expressionist artists in Hannover Schwitter received an invitation to exhibit at Herwarth Walden’s Sturm Gallery in Berlin in 1918. Schwitter established a relationship with pioneer collage artist, Hans Arp who first persuaded Schwitter to cast off his academic techniques of creation to experience with the possibilities of multimedia art. In 1919, he participated in a Sturm exhibition, where he presented his abstract “Merz” works and his whimsical “Dada” drawings.
When he was 32, Schwitters held his first Merz exhibition, finding himself at the forefront of contemporary art. He also published a Merz magazine from 1923 to 1932 and founded a successful advertising agency in 1924. During the Third Reich, he kept a low profile, immigrating to Norway in 1937. Nazi troops invaded Norway in 1940 and Schwitters was forced to flee to England where he was interned until 1941. After he was released, he remained in war-torn London, gaining inspiration for his new Merz works.
Schwitters moved in with Edith Thomas in the English town of Ambleside and started a new Merzbau, with financial help from the Museum of Modern Art in New York.