The Schwitters Scandal

The Schwitters ScandalLast night Curran and I watched the recently released ARTHAUS MUSIK art documentary on the legacy left to the world by prolific German DADA (MERZ) artist Kurt Schwitters. With his only son Ernst nearing death after a stroke, Kurt’s grandson and daughter-in-law are battling it out with Marlborough Gallery in England to take back possession of – and exclusive selling rights to – the  hundreds of Schwitters’ drawings and collages in storage. What’s worse is that Ernst’s mistress, and a court appointed legal guardian are also in the mix, vying for money and a Kurt Schwitters Museum. With millions of dollars and the legacy of one of the greatest artists of the modernist movement at stake, this short documentary is a brief look at Kurt’s work, and the current state of his contentiously boxed legacy.

I was delighted to see a tour of the Schwitters works in the Sprengel Museum Hannover, as well as a historical look at Schwitters’ life, but was appalled at the legal battle with the art buyers who are basically just goons with art history degrees. It hass really made me re-think taking the MFA in Critique and Curatorial Practice program at OCAD (essentially, learning to be an art buyer) before continuing on to my PhD. Is this the kind of legal business crap I have to look forward to? Either way, check out the documentary if you want to see beautiful and rare Schwitters collages, feel bad about commercialization in the art world, and hatefully sneer at goons with money holding precious art ransom.

Also, check out Jaap Blonk performing Schwitters’ sound poem “Ursonate” at the Artefact Festival in 2007:

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