Kurt Schwitters' last Merzbau: The Elterwater Merz Barn


Images from the BBC programme ‘Civilisation’: ‘The Vital Spark’ with Sir Simon Schama

It was through the Wiener Library in London, and later Sir Simon Schama’s BBC Civilization TV series – in particular the programme ‘The Vital Spark’, about the children’s art project in Theresienstadt, that we at the Merz Barn were inspired to develop the concept of the ‘Artists of the Holocaust’ memorial project at the Merz Barn site.  Encouraged by their heroic art teacher Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, the children in the Theresienstadt concentration camp created images conjuring up the lives and hopes of which they were being deprived, and Schama’s programme is a poignant tribute to the power of art to sustain optimism in the face of adversity.

The Dream

‘The Dream’ – one of the Theresienstadt children’s paintings

Artists and the Holocaust Exhibition in the Merz Barn Cake Room.

The ‘Cake Room’ exhibition space, and the seating circle outside the Merz Barn, are designated as a memorial to the artists, composers, musicians, dancers and writers, – and children – who were proscribed by the Nazis during their campaign of terror (1934 – 1944, or exterminated in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Belsen, Theresienstadt, etc.

The connection with Langdale is through the German refugee artist Kurt Schwitters, who came here in 1947 to work on what was to be his last great experimental art work; the Merz Barn.   Although not Jewish, Schwitters identified closely with the Jewish people, and many of his artist friends were Jewish.

‘Writing the Names’ the Entartete Kunst memorial project

Alongside the ‘Artists of the Holocaust’ exhibition we are continuing with the Entartete Kunst documentation project.  Over the summer and autumn we are planning a number of exhibitions, seminars and events to commemorate the artists who, like Kurt Schwitters, were declared ‘degenerate’ (entartet) by the Nazis.

As a part of this we have a list of the names of the artists included in the infamous ‘Entartete Kunst’ exhibition in Munich in July 1937.  We invite visitors to the Merz Barn, and the ‘Artists and the Holocaust’ exhibition, to help us celebrate the artists’ names by writing them in chalk on the end wall of the Merz Barn.

plaza Aug '14

The Merz Barn Circle and end wall

Please enjoy the little memorial circle and, if you would like to, take a piece of chalk and write the name of one of the artists (list supplied) persecuted and declared ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, on the wall of the barn.


Jill:Ian and ent. kunst wall

Artist Jill Rock with Ian Hunter in 2013 after the artists’ names have been chalked on the Merz Barn wall for the first time.

Coloured chalks are provided for children and young people to create their own drawings and art works on the flag-stones flooring the Memorial circle.

The motto for the Merz Barn project is..

“The triumph of creativity over evil”

Author: https://www.facebook.com/MerzBarnLangdale/?fref=ts

The site where Kurt Schwitters created his last great Merz artwork

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