Ideas that inspire. Kurt Schwitters at Berkeley.

Kurt Schwitters collage: Mz 601, 1923; paint and paper on cardboard; 17 × 15If you’re anywhere near the Bay Area, hurry to see
Kurt Schwitters, Color and Collage in the cantilevered bomb shelter aesthetics of the Berkeley Museum of Art—BAM/PFA—before the show closes Sunday, November 27th

Kurt Schwitters’ evocative collages are composed of the discarded stuff of life—arcane retail bags and paper, tickets, and newspaper classifieds combined into jewel-like miniatures not much bigger than your iphone, though some are more than double that size.

This exhibit is  gathered from a wide array of sources—some from the private collections of artists Ellsworth Kelly and Jasper Johns, and the Schwitters family itself.

Schwitters talked about his work in mostly formal terms—his collage materials were extensions of color and paint—but its’ strong recalled memories cannot be resisted. It’s as if you’re looking down to what’s beneath your feet, long discarded by those before you.

Along with famous artists Hanna Hoch, Hans Arp and El Lissitsky, Schwitters created the Dada-like revolutionary Merz Magazine.

Also on display is a recreation of one room of his Merzbau environment, a multi-room composition without boundaries—like walking through Arp sculpture punctuated with bits of Max Earnst imagery. You’ll leave wanting to wander through twenty times the wonder we’re allowed here.

Kurt Schwitters Color and Collage, at the Berkeley Museum of Art—BAM / PFA.
Ends Sunday November 27, 2011.

(No photographs of the exhibit are permitted, so here are some images of the cantilevered M. C. Esher, Labyrinth aesthetics of The Berkeley Museum of Art, BAM.)

Exterior of the Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau recreation at UC Berkeley.

Kurt Schwitters, Color and Collage at UC Berkeley.

UC Berkeley Museum of Art, BAM/PFAHas plans to move to the 1939 Art Deco University of California Press.

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