The Kurt Schwitters Archives in the Sprengel Museum Hannover were set up in 1994 and contain the most comprehensive documentation of the artistic work of Kurt Schwitters (1887 - 1948). The archives were put together by the artist's son, Ernst Schwitters, and are the source of the “uvre list being drawn up in the Sprengel Museum Hannover. The Sprengel Museum Hannover is always very pleased to receive information about privately or publicly owned work by Schwitters. Please contact the Sprengel Museum Hannover, Dr Karin Orchard or Dr Isabel Schulz, Kurt-Schwitters-Platz, 30169 Hannover, Germany, T +49 511 16 84 - 46 48 /1684 - 62 12, Fax +49 511 16 84 -50 93. All information will, of course, be handled with the utmost discretion.
Kurt Schwitters was one of the outstanding artists of the 1920s. Including numerous works on permanent loan, the Sprengel Museum Hannover has more than 108 original works by Schwitters. The Schwitters Archives in the Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library) contain numerous personal documents, his correspondence, and writing by and about Kurt Schwitters. So what could be more appropriate than to collect information and documents about the life and work of this internationally important modern artist in his native city, Hanover.
In 1993 the artist's son, Ernst Schwitters, handed over the archives concerning his father's artistic “uvre to the Sprengel Museum Hannover, on condition that the museum continue to add to them and look after them. For some 40 years Ernst Schwitters, whose starting point was his father's voluminous legacy, with which he had been entrusted, worked on a photographic and written documentation of all the work known to him. The archives are in chronological order and currently list some 3,000 works.
Ernst Schwitters, an only son and one of the people most familiar with his father's work, possesses great authority on the subject. After all, he spent the first thirty years of his life with his father, with whom he worked closely, and has devoted his life to an intensive study of the “uvre. As a result these archives, which up until now have been kept in Lysaker near Oslo, are invaluable for scholarly studies on the work of Kurt Schwitters.
The Kurt Schwitters Archives are the place where scholarly research and enquiries all come together. Each work's technical data, provenance, exhibition- and publication-history are documented. The information is computerized. Photographs or transparencies exist of some 2,000 works. Work in the archives consists mainly of checking and completing the existing entries, searching world-wide for as yet undiscovered works and making entries on them. Even during Schwitters' lifetime, either through sales, exchanges or by way of gifts more than half his work was scattered all over the world. Not even his son knew exactly where everything finished up, so the most pressing task is to search it out. We hope that by systematically hunting through the relevant literature and through the records of museums, galleries, auction houses and collectors we shall discover a great number of works.
It is our intention to include Kurt Schwitters' entire artistic production in the “uvre list, even the naturalistic pieces, many of which were just pot-boilers. We also intend including all the lost or destroyed pieces for which there is documentation.
It is essential to subject the original works to expert examination, especially as there are many forgeries about. Here, too, the information in the archives is of invaluable assistance in examining questionable works and deciding on their authenticity.
The “uvre list will be in three volumes; Volume I, a listing of his work up to and including 1922, is to be published in October 2000, parallel to the exhibition in the Sprengel Museum Hannover "Aller Angfang ist MERZ - Von Kurt Schwitters bis heute" (All things begin with MERZ -from Kurt Schwitters to the Present Day).
Dr. Karin Orchard
T +49 511 16 8 - 4 46 48
F +49 511 16 8 - 4 50 93
Dr. Isabel Schulz
T +49 511 16 8 - 4 62 12
F +49 511 16 8 - 4 50 93