Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage, The Menil Collection, Houston, TX

Kurt Schwitters, Mz 371 bacco, 1922
Collage of cut and torn, printed, handwritten,
tissue and coated papers on paperboard
The Menil Collection

October 22, 2010 – January 30, 2011

The German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) remains one of the most influential figures of the international avant-garde. In the years following the First World War he coined the term “Merz,” in reference to his ambition to “make connections …between everything in the world.” Hoping to unify life and art by incorporating non-art into his work, this pioneer of installation art came closest to his ideal with his Merzbau, a room-size walk-in sculpture constructed of found materials.

Placing special emphasis on the significance of color and light in the artist’s work and delving into the relationship between collage and painting, Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage will present the first overview in the U.S. of the artist’s oeuvre since the MoMA retrospective of 1985. In addition to a full-scale reconstruction of the Merzbau, the exhibition will include roughly 100 assemblages, reliefs, sculptures, and collages from 1918–1947, with emphasis on Merz works from the 1920s and 1940s.

Seen against the background of the Menil Collection’s own holdings, Schwitters’s art opens the door to central concepts and working methods of a younger generation of artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly.

Guest curated by Isabel Schulz, co-editor of the Kurt Schwitters catalogue raisonné and curator of the Kurt Schwitters Archive at the Sprengel Museum Hannover, in collaboration with Menil Director Josef Helfenstein, Color and Collage will present key works from American and European museums and private collections.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by Schulz along with noted scholars Leah Dickerman and Gwendolen Webster.

The exhibition will travel to Princeton University Art Museum March 26–June 26, 2011, followed by Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive August 3–November 27, 2011.