PRINT September 1973

Private Objects: The Sculpture of Kurt Schwitters


SCHWITTERS’ OUTPUT AS AN ARTIST was prodigious, but of all the arts he worked in, the one most objectlike in character—sculpture—seems somewhat peripheral to his main achievement. The eccentric Dadaist sculptures of the early years appear to be mere offshoots from the far more seriously motivated assemblages that spawned them. The small organic-looking works of wood or plaster and wire dating from the mid-’20s are largely monolithic in effect, and further from the principle of assemblage than any other aspect of his oeuvre. He did, we know, refer to the Hanover Merzbau—the labyrinthlike environmental construction that eventually came to occupy a large proportion of his own home—as being a sculpture; and its importance to his entire oeuvre is not in question. But sculpture as such—as freestanding objects—is not for what Schwitters is remembered.

Given his obsession with objects, and

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