Myself and My Aims

Writings on Art and Criticism

Kurt Schwitters

Myself and My Aims

Kurt Schwitters

Edited by Megan R. Luke
Translations by Timothy Grundy

656 pages | 83 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2020
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226129396 Will Publish February 2021
E-book $40.00 ISBN: 9780226678276 Will Publish February 2021
Kurt Schwitters was a major protagonist in the histories of modern art and literature, whose response to the contradictions of modern life rivals that of Marcel Duchamp in its importance for artists working today. His celebrated Merz pictures—collaged and assembled from the scrap materials of popular culture and the debris of the studio, such as newspaper clippings, wood, cardboard, fabric, and paint—reflect a lifelong interest in collection, fragmentation, and abstraction, techniques he also applied to language and graphic design.

As the first anthology in English of the critical and theoretical writings of this influential artist, Myself and My Aims makes the case for Schwitters as one of the most creative thinkers of his generation. Including material that has never before been published, this volume presents the full range of his prolific writing on the art and attitudes of his time, joining existing translations of his children’s stories, poetry, and fiction to give new readers unprecedented access to his literary imagination. With an accessible introduction by Megan R. Luke and elegant English translations by Timothy Grundy, this book will prove an exceptional resource for artists, scholars, and enthusiasts of his art.
 
Contents
List of Illustrations
An Introduction to Merz-Thought
A Note to the Reader

1          The Problem of Abstract Art. First Attempt (June–August 1910)
2          Problem of Pure Painting. 2nd Attempt. 1. Beginning (before December 1910)
3          Materials for My Work on the Problem of Pure Painting. 3rd Attempt (November 1910)
4          2nd Beginning to the Problem of Pure Painting. 2nd Attempt (December 1910–January 1911)
5          Abstract Painting. 1918. A. (February 1918)
6          Merz-Painting (July/November 1919)
7          A Solid Article: A Wienerization in Sturm (August 1919)
8          The Merz-Theater / To All the Theaters of the World (1919)
9          Artists’ Right to Self-Determination (1919)
10        Thou Me, I Thee, We Mine (and Sun Infinity Thin Out the Stars) (December 1919)
11        Nothing Kills Quicker Than Ridicule (February 1920)
12        Berliner Börsenkukukunst (February 1920)
13        Tran Number 7. General Amnesty for My Hannoverian Critics in the Style of Merz (April 1920)
14        What Art Is: A Guide for Great Critics (April 1920)
15        Statement (April 1920)
16        [I divide my poetry into three types . . .] (April 1920)
17        Hannover (June 1920)
18        Extension (June 1920)
19        Tran Number 11. German Popular Criticism, the Criticism of Reconstruction (August 1920)
20        Tran No. 12. Criticism as Artwork (September 1920)
21        Tran Number 13. The Private Scouring Cloth: Contribution to a Phenomenology of Critical Enjoyment (October 1920)
22        Tran No. 14. Dr. Frog Starves the Intellect (October 1920)
23        Tran Number 16. Life on Blind Feet (December 1920)
24        Kurt Schwitters (1920)
25        Tran Number 17. The Fettered Paul Madsack (December 1920)
26        MERZ (Written for the Ararat, 19 December 1920) (January 1921)
27        Tran No. 15. The Average Phenomenon with Clear Eyes (January 1921)
28        Why I Am Dissatisfied with Oil Painting (January 1921)
Translated from Hungarian by John Batki
29        Tran 18 (February 1921)
30        Evening Reading (ca. February 1921)
31        My Views on the Value of Criticism (for the Ararat) (May 1921)
32        Cleanliness (for People Who Don’t Know It Yet) (May 1921)
33        Tran 19 (August 1921)
34        Castle and Cathedral with Courtyard Fountain (1922)
35        Tran 21. Speech at the Grave of Leo Rein (in the Berliner Börsenzeitung 547 on 27 November 1921) (January 1922)
36        Tragedy. Tran No. 22, against Dr. Weygandt, PhD and MD (May 1922)
37        i (A Manifesto) (May 1922)
38        Tran No. 26 (1922)
39        Tran 23 (September 1922)
40        Introduction to Tran No. 30: Auguste Bolte (1923)
41        The Self-Overcoming of Dada (January 1923)
Translated from Dutch by Michael White
42        [Introduction to Merz 1. Holland Dada] (January 1923)
43        Dadaism in Holland (January 1923)
44        [Editorial note to Vilmos Huszár, Mechanische Dansfiguur] (January 1923)
45        Style (ca. January–April 1923)
46        i (April 1923)
47        WAR (April 1923)
48        War (April 1923)
49        Manifesto Proletarian Art (April 1923)
50        From the World: “MERZ” (April–June 1923)
51        Banalities (3) (July 1923)
52        dada complet. 1 (July 1923)
53        Banalities (4) / [Tristan Tzara] (July 1923)
54        DADA NEWS (July 1923)
55        WATCH YOUR STEP! (October 1923)
56        Merz (1924)
57        i (January 1924)
58        DADA COMPLET No. 2. / TRAN 50 (January 1924)
59        Dadaists (January 1924)
60        [Advertisement for Merz 8/9. Nasci] (January 1924)
61        Tran 35. Dada Is a Hypothesis (March 1924)
62        Rigorous Poetry (June 1924)
63        Dadaism (1924)
Translated from Polish by Kamila Kuc
64        National Feeling (August 1924)
65        The Westheim Threat, Again (December 1924)
66        National Art (1925)
67        [What Is Madness?] (ca. mid-1920s)
68        Theses on Typography (1925)
69        [The Standard Merz Stage] (1925)
70        STANDARD MERZ STAGE (July 1925)
71        Religion or Socialism (July 1925)
72        STANDARD MERZ STAGE (Some Practical Suggestions.) (July 1925)
73        The ABC of the Standard Merz Stage (July 1925)
74        Language (November 1925)
75        Standard Stage by Kurt Schwitters (December 1925)
76        Gut Garkau (ca. late 1925/early 1926)
77        FANTASTIC THOUGHTS (ca. 1926)
78        Art and the Times (March 1926)
79        The New Architecture in Germany (March 1926)
80        Life’s Path (May 1926)
81        Facts from My Life (June 1926)
82        Rhythm in the Work of Art (October 1926)
83        Merz-Book (October 1926)
84        Standard Stage (October 1926)
85        My Merz and My Monster Merz: Model Marketplace at Sturm (October 1926)
86        Call It Coincidence (ca. mid-1920s)
87        The Artist and His Titles (1926)
88        Merz 20. Kurt Schwitters Catalogue (1927)
89        [Ella Bergmann-Michel] (March 1927)
90        [Letter to Wassily Kandinsky] (April 1927)
91        Elementary Knowledge in Painting (ca. 1927)
92        Style or Form-Creation (1927)
93        typography and orthography: lowercase (ca. 1927)
94        Sensation (July 1927)
95        Front against Fronta: Afterword to the Foreword of Fronta (July–August 1927)
96        Proposals for a Systematic Typeface (August–September 1927)
97        Sense of Duty (September 1927)
98        Stuttgart, The Home—Werkbund Exhibition (October 1927)
99        My Sonata in Ur-Sounds (November 1927)
100      Kitsch and Dilettantism (December 1927)
101      Good or Bad Fortune (December 1927)
102      On Greek Temples (April 1928)
103      Appearance (ca. spring 1928)
104      Third Prague Letter (May 1928)
105      The New Architecture in Celle: The Architect Otto Haesler (August 1928)
106      Form-Creating Typography (September 1928)
107      Modern Advertising (October 1928)
108      Werkbund Congress in Munich, 1928 (November 1928)
109      Stories That Have Run Their Course (November 1928)
110      Revue by Three Reviewed (December 1928)
111      [Review of Hans Hildebrandt, Woman as Artist] (December 1928)
112      Hannover and the Abstract Room by Lissitzky (April 1929)
113      About Me by Myself (May 1929)
Originally published in English, translator unknown
114      A Layman’s Judgment of New Architecture (June 1929)
115      The Style of the Age and the Dammerstock Housing Estate (September 1929)
116      Facts from My Life (December 1929)
117      [The art of today is a strange thing . . .] (March 1930)
Translated from French by Eva Morawietz
118      the ring neue werbegestalter (1930)
119      Advertising Design (1930)
120      Form-Creation in Typography (February and April 1930)
121      Painting (ca. late 1920s/early 1930s)
122      On the Uniform Design of Print Materials (1930)
123      Kurt Schwitters (1930)
124      [The Big E is finished . . .] (ca. 1930–33)
125      Myself and My Aims (1931)
126      [We know the Doesburg of “Stijl” . . .] (June 1931/January 1932)
127      merz-paintings (1932)
Translated from French by Eva Morawietz
128      [Statement about the Merzbau] (1933)
Translated from French by Eva Morawietz
129      [Excerpts from letters to Susanna Freudenthal-Lutter about the Merzbau] (February and March 1935)
130      [Excerpt from a letter to Susanna Freudenthal-Lutter about landscape painting] (July 1935)
131      The Work of Art (ca. 1937–40)
132      Impressionism/Expressionism (ca. 1937–40)
133      The Tin Palm Tree (July 1937)
134      [I once saw a famous singer in a film . . .] (December 1937)
135      [Anyone who wants to write about people . . .] (December 1937)
136      Sheet 1. For My New Studio (April 1938)
137      Sheet 2 (April 1938)
138      Merz (April 1938)
139      [I first saw the light of the world in the year 1887 . . .] (June 1938)
140      [Once we realize that, basically, everything is futile . . .] (after 16 December 1939)
141      Truth (ca. 1930s)
142      Art (January 1940)
143      Mixing of Artistic Genres (ca. 1940)
144      Theory in Painting (January 1940)
145      Painting (Pure Painting) (October 1940)
146      [The Portrait] (October 1940)
147      European Art of the 20th Century (between 17 July 1940 and 22 November 1941)
148      [Statement declining membership in the Freier Deutscher Kulturbund] (after November 1941)
149      Abstract Art (after November 1941)
Original in English
150      Material and Aims (after November 1941)
Original in English
151      [Kurt Schwitters] (after November 1941)
Original in English
152      The Origin of Merz (after November 1941)
153      [Kurt Schwitters] (after November 1941)
Original in English
154      [Renaissance] (after 30 October 1945)
155      [Answers to a questionnaire for La savoir vivre] (1946)
Translated from French by Eva Morawietz
156      Key for Reading Sound Poems (September 1946)
Original in English
157      My Art and My Life (ca. 1946–47)
Original in English

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
 
Review Quotes
Devin Fore, Princeton University
“This indispensable collection follows Schwitters’ swiftly changing thought on a diverse range of subjects from architecture and painting to graphic art and poetry. In each case Schwitters delivers his canny diagnosis with rigor, humor, and unflinching belligerence. No figure was able to reconcile Dadaist nihilism with constructivist optimism quite like Schwitters, and his striking insights about the hollow metaphysics of consumer society will not fail to resonate with anyone torn between the positions of critique and complicity today.”
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