On Monday 23rd January, Year 6 visited the Hatton Art Gallery as part of Creative Week. Our artist was also linked to our WWII study unit.
We learned: Adolf Hitler, born Austrian, was a keen art lover and as a younger man tried to study Art in Further Education but was not accepted on the courses he applied for. He continued to take an interest in Art and as he rose to Nazi leader, a German man, Kurt Schwitter began to be noticed in the Art world. He produced art work that was quite rare at the time basing it on collage effect. Schwitter was anti-Nazi and during Hitler’s takeover he even produced anti-Hitler pieces which once were heard about angered Adolf! In response to Schwitter, Hitler himself put together an exhibition of Schwitter’s work and said that the pieces were NOT art and were terrible. With such animosity brewing, Kurt had to flee Germany to avoid Nazi punishment. He hid on a tiny island in Norway, living in a hut with his family and once Germany conquered Norway he them had to escape to Britain.
Kurt Schwitter became a war refugee, firstly being sent to Scotland. After a stint in Edinburgh he was sent to a refugee camp on the Isle of Man where he was housed to keep him safe. Here he met many friends and continued his love of art despite the hardship of having moved countries several times during WWII.
He then moved to Ambleside where he lived in a terraced house and was given a barn as a studio to do his art work in. He would walk around the Lake District where he’d find pebbles, wooden items etc. and added them to an art wall, making a 3D collage. The same wall of the barn is now housed in Hatton Art Gallery, Newcastle, where we have visited. Its appeal is appreciated by many art critics and lovers. His work based on randomness, luck and chance is named ‘Merz’ artwork. The word ‘Merz’ itself means nothing, infact he found the letters from a cut-out of a paper and liked the randomness of the letters. Some call his work a form of Dadaism – a term linked again to randomness. Kurt Schwitter died of illnesses one day after being granted British citizenship in 1948, three years after the end of the war.