16 October 2012
Monday 12 November 2012 in Lecture Room 1, 3-5 Woodland Road, 4.15pm
Dr Karin Orchard (Head of Department of Prints & Drawings, Sprengel Museum Hannover)
Schwitters described himself as 'citizen and idiot', and it is this remarkable combination of sentimental, conventional, feeling person and avant-garde artist that underpins the singularity of both his work and his personality. In his first place of exile, in Norway, this was particularly evident in his abstract and naturalist paintings; in England it is seen in his use of over-painting and in the ongoing development of his collages and material pictures. It was only here, thrown back on his own resources, far removed from the high-minded expectations of his fellow artists and on his own in the London art world, which had itself been decimated by war – 'Here I am like a question mark on abstract art' – and later on in rural Ambleside, that his other 'I', that another Schwitters came to light. He deliberately sought out marginal situations: he stayed in Hanover rather than moving to Berlin, he emigrated to Norway rather than Paris or the United States, and he moved to the Lake District rather than staying in London. Right up until the end of his life, his chosen role as outsider and stranger also gave him immense artistic freedom.