Myth, how will Schwitters be remembered ?

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Schwitters: ‘I am now selling enough to make a living …. But what I really miss is the intercourse with people who love and understand abstract art; there’s nothing like that here’.

R. Martakies: 'Schwitters became a well known (if somewhat mysterious) figure in Ambleside and is still remembered by a handful of residents. Schwitters was regarded as an interesting character rather than a famous artist. He was a tall man, nicknamed Jumbo by Edith Thomas, dressed in old rummage sale clothes and walked with a shuffle and often carried a suitcase in which he stowed painting materials and interesting rubbish picked up along the way.'

Schwitters was a well-known artist in Germany, but at the Royal College of Art in London, artists were busying themselves with completely different things. Schwitters’ work was considered to be bizarre and was ignored.

Some London surrealists dismissed Schwitters’ work as ‘old fashioned and more in tune with the 1920s’.
More info by R.Martakies: click here

At that time Richard Hamilton rescued him from the realms of the forgotten in the UK by recognizing the importance of the Merzbarn. This resulted in the remarkable salvation of a portion of the art work.

But neither the wall, nor the barn, nor even the route have gained such mythical proportions as has the work of Schwitters in Germany. Rather, the risk was great that the unique story of the removal and the English Merzbarn would be lost forever.

The museum display of the wall in Newcastle has improved somewhat but it must be said that the information available is on the thin side.


In Elterwater lots of projects have been set up, by "Art trust Littoral" amongst others, to put the barn and its surrounding estate in the Lake District back on the map and to bring its relation to the vanished wall back to the attention of the public. However there are no current plans to bring the wall back home to the barn.

How these "memory-making" actions will develop is as yet unclear and certainly well worth following up.

Just untill 2011, new developments:

> 2011 "The third location

> 2013 "Lars Fiske's graphic novel on “Herr Merz"


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1. Merbarn, life-sized photo by candlelight, 2008 (detail)
2. Visitors' center at the Cylinders Estate.2008
3. Visitors' center at the Cylinders Estate.2008 (interior)
4. Entrance sign, 2008
5. Merbarn, life-sized photo by candlelight, 2008
6. Interview with Fred Brookes, 'Schwitters Open Day" at
    Langdale, 2003