Kurt Schwitters and the Art of Collage

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11824

You don't have to go to art college to learn how to create a popular and expressive art form: collage! Kids do it and professionals do it. Get your glue and scissors and "stuff" and make a statement!


History, Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Every school child has at one time or another created his or her own collage. Collage is great for kids because it is easier to create than the more challenging art forms like painting and sculpting.

  • Does it belong in the finest museums and galleries in the world, though?

Collage is fun and easy.

Just cut up some magazines, get out the paste, and slap it together, and you have a ready-made piece of art. Collage is not just for elementary-school kids, though; it is a serious art form. One of the people who promoted collage in the early twentieth century was the German artist, Kurt Schwitters.

Schwitters was a very unusual man with a very unusual approach to art. For Schwitters, art was a way of living rather than a series of artistic pieces to be completed. He called this approach to life and art merz, the fragment of a German word that had no particular meaning.

Read about Kurt Schwitters' philosophy of art. As you read In Search of Lost Art: Kurt Schwitters's Merzbau, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, write down information and ideas to answer the following questions:

  • What materials would Schwitters use to compose his artistic creations?
  • What did Schwitters believe about the world he was living in?
  • How were those beliefs reflected in his art?

Collect your responses to the questions above, and share your findings with your parent or teacher. Then, reflect on the following questions and discuss:

  • What was happening in Kurt Schwitters' world that may have shaped his way of thinking about life and art?
  • How can art communicate ideas differently from, or better than, writing or some other means of communication?
  • How do our beliefs about the world affect the work we do and the things we produce?

The art of collage has a long history, but it rose to prominence as a respected art form in the early twentieth century. While Schwitters was a pioneer of the form, many other artists have used collage for different purposes.

In the Got It? section, you will compare Schwitters' approach to collage alongside other artists' collages, which will help you understand Schwitters' philosophy of life and art that he called merz.

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