1887: Born in Rumannstrasse
in Hannover on 20 June.
1894 Starts school. 1898 Kurt Schwitters' parents, Eduard and Henriette
Schwitters, retire from their business.
1901 First epileptic seizure. The family moves to Waldhausenstrasse
1908 Matriculation. Engagement to his second cousin, Helma Fischer.
1908-9 Student at the School of Applied Art, Hanover.
1909 -14 Student at the Royal Academy of Art, Dresden.
1910 First writings on abstract art.
1913 First exhibition with the Kunstverein Hannover.
1915 Marries Helma Fischer on 5 October.
1916 Death of son Gerd.
1917 Military service. Works as a draughtsman in Hannover. First exhibition
with the Kestner Society in Hannover: experiments with Expressionist
and abstract pictures.
1918 Studies architecture in Hannover. First exhibition in Berlin, at
the Sturm Gallery. Birth of son Ernst.
1919 First Merz pictures. Contact with members of Berlin Dada,
includung Richard Huelsenbeck, Raoul Hausmann and Hannah Höch (but is
not rejected by Berlin Dada, as is often assumed.) His poem An Anna
Blume is published in December. 1920 An Anna Blume creates
a scandal. Merz pictures are exhibited at the Société Anonyme
in New York. Undertakes public recitals of his literary works for the
1921 Recitals with Raoul Hausmann in Prague.
1922 Attends Dada - Constructivist meeting in Weimar.
1923 The 'Dada Holland' campaign with Theo and Nelly van Doesburg. Starts
publication of Merz magazine. Intensifies contacts with the Bauhaus
1924 Merz 8/9 Publishes 'Nasci' in conjunction with El Lissitsky.
Founds the Merz Werbe advertising agency.
1925 First recording of the Scherzo from the Ursonate.
1926 First visit of his American patron Katherine Dreier. Explores the
medium of photography.
1927 Founder member of 'abstrakten hannover' and 'ring neuer
werbegestalter'. Visits Doesburgs in Paris. Moves his studio and starts
intensive work on the 'Cathedral of Erotic Misery'.
1928 Visits Italy. Works on revues and a multi-media opera, Der Zusammenstoss
1929 First visit to Norway. Typography contracts for Karlsruhe and for
Hannover City Council. Joins the French 'cercle et carré', an
association of abstract artists. Katherine Dreier and Marcel Duchamp
visit him in Hannover.
1931 Joins 'abstraction-création', the successor to 'cercle et carré'.
Death of his father Eduard Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg.
1932 Tour of the Mediterranean. The Ursonate is published as
final number of the Merz magazine
1933 First stage of completion of the Cathedral of Erotic Misery,
now rechristened the Merzbau.
1934 Ceases all typographical work. Rents a hut on the Norwegian island
1935 Six-month visit to Norway. Affair with Suus Freudenthal.
1936-7 Exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
1937 Under increasing pressure from the Nazis, he emigrates to Norway
on Jan 2. Afer his departure, Katherine Dreier visits his home for the
last time. His pictures are shown at the Entartete Kunst exhibition
in Munich in July. Starts on a new Merzbau in Oslo, the Haus am Bakken.
1938 Merz pictures shown at a controversial German Art exhibition in
1939 Sees his wife and mother for the last time. Increasing isolation
after the outbreak of war.
1940 Flees from the invading Nazi troops. Escapes from Norway on an
icebreaker and is interned on his arrival in Britain in June. In August
he is sent to Hutchinson Internment Camp, Isle of Man.
1941 Released from internment in November. Moves to Bayswater, London,
where he first meets Edith Thomas (Wantee). 1942 Moves to Barnes. Visits
the Lake District with Wantee.
1943 Destruction of Merzbau in Hanover.
1944 Suffers stroke. Exhibits in Modern Art Gallery in London. His wife
Helma dies of cancer in Hannover.
1945 Moves to Ambleside in the Lake District. His mother Henriette dies
in Hannover. He suffers a brain haemorrhage.
1946 Plans to restore the Merzbau in Hannover or Oslo with a
grant from MOMA. Spends nearly three months in bed with a broken
leg. Works on the magazine PIN with Raoul Hausmann.
1947 In a critical state of health, he undertakes public recitals in
London and starts a third Merzbau in Little Langdale, financed
1948 Dies 8 Jan in Kendal. Buried in Ambleside. (In 1970 his remains
are exhumed and removed to Hannover.)
*Information from The
Kurt Schwitters Page, © GWENDOLEN FREUNDEL