Dada Culture: Critical Texts on the Avant-Garde

By Dafydd Jones | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Montage and Totality: Kurt Schwitters's relationship
to “tradition” and “avant-garde”

Curt Germundson

Abstract: Kurt Schwitters discussed his work in terms associated with traditional
concepts of art, while at the same time adhering to the non-traditional technique of
collage. Peter Bürger's influential Theory of the Avant-Garde is limited in that it does
not allow an artist like Schwitters to be considered avant-garde. A productive theory
of the avant-garde is one that accounts for artists such as Schwitters, who do not
simply oppose tradition, but transform it in their work. Within the critical literature
there is still a tendency to focus on Schwitters's supposed separation and isolation
from society at large. A discussion in this essay of works from drawings and paintings
to the collages demonstrates how Schwitters transformed nineteenth and twentieth
century ideas concerning the Gothic cathedral, leading to the merging of “private” and
“public” in the Merzbau.


1. Introduction

Peter Bürger in his 1974 Theory of the Avant-Garde (English translation published in 1984) discusses montage as being the “fundamental principle of avant-gardiste art”, as it “breaks through the appearance of totality”, by making it clear that the work is made up of reality fragments (Bürger 1984: 72). This essay will examine the way Kurt Schwitters searched for a non-conventional art while adhering to concepts that Bürger associates with the “organic” work of art. Schwitters and the evolution of his idea of the “autonomous” and “organic” work of art serve to expose the limitation of Bürger's theory

-156-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Dada Culture: Critical Texts on the Avant-Garde
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 327

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?