Saturday, March 31, 2007

Different Like Me: Kurt Schwitters

I had been working with collage for a couple of years when I first heard the name Kurt Schwitters. Someone commented that my collages were heavily influenced by the artist (which was true, though I hadn' t been aware at the time), so I checked out a couple of books. I was astounded to find that not only did Schwitters share my fascination with paper scraps and rectangles, he also behaved in ways very familiar to me. It seems Schwitters also was a poet with a penchant for repetition of nonsense syllables. The biography mentioned a habit of barking, along with a compulsive, driven manner in collecting not only paper scraps, but also larger, three dimensional "spoils and relics" he made into Merzbau. I briefly considered whether my own collection of broken lamps, dead batteries, eight track tapes, 1950s ashtrays and a gorgeous, though non-working salmon pink 1959 Sylvania Dualette TV might also be art. Sadly, no. Something about him must have been like me, but I would never meet the criteria for artist by his definition. "Everything an artist spits," he said, "is art".
Above: an example of my own expectorate.

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