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Farron praises Tate for putting on major Schwitters exhibition

October 19, 2012 4:15 PM

TF KendalSouth Lakes MP Tim Farron has praised the Tate gallery for putting on the first major exhibition to examine the work of former Lakes resident Kurt Schwitters, one of the major artists of European Modernism. In an exhibition called Schwitters in Britain running from 30 January - 12 May 2013 in London.

The exhibition focuses on his British period, from his arrival in Britain as a refugee in 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948. Schwitters was forced to flee Germany when his work was condemned as 'degenerate' by Germany's Nazi government and the show traces the impact of exile on his work. It includes over 150 collages, assemblages and sculptures many shown in the UK for the first time in over 30 years.

Artworks have been lent to the Tate by Abbot Hall in Kendal and the ArmittMuseum in Ambleside, where Schwitters' works are always on display. And the site of his last installation at Cylinders in Langdale is open to the public most weekends. Private collectors in the Lake District have also contributed to the Tate exhibition.

Schwitters was a significant figure in European Dadaism who invented the concept of Merz - 'the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials'. Whether those materials were string, cotton wool or a pram wheel, Schwitters considered them to be equal with paint. He is best known for his pioneering use of found objects and everyday materials in abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance. Schwitters's time in Britain was quite extraordinary and continues to reverberate today, with the influence he has exerted over artists such as Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi and Damien Hirst.

In 1945 Schwitters relocated to the Lake District. Inspired by the rural Cumbrian landscape, he began to incorporate natural objects into his work, as shown in a group of small sculptures including Untitled (Opening Blossom) 1942-5 which he considered to be among his finest British pieces. The move also culminated in the creation of his last great sculpture and installation, the Merz Barn, a continuation of the Hanover Merzbau; an architectural construction considered to be one of the key lost works of European modernism.

The exhibition is organised by Tate Britain and the Sprengel Museum Hannover in cooperation with the Kurt und Ernst Schwitters Stiftung, Hannover. It will tour to the Sprengel Museum Hannover from 2 June to 25 August 2013.

Tim said: "Kurt Schwitters was a remarkable and inspirational man, who battled oppression and came to the Lakes for sanctuary. The more widely the story of Schwitters is known, the better it is for the Lakes economy. With his life in the Lake District being highlighted in this premier exhibition in London, it is likely that art lovers will want to come and see the area where he lived which inspired him so much."