Dedecker, Adrian F., III
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis combines an investigation of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau with reflections on the critical process. The Merzbau's themes are presented in terms of the concepts of freedom and boundary, which I associate with the critical concepts of autonomy and context. By coupling these conceptual pairs within the framework of Schwitters' art and his commentary I investigate his theory and his practice. The thesis starts with a description of the Merzbau from photographs and art history, which leads into an epistemological discussion of how we know art objects. This is followed by a general discussion of formalism and why Schwitters' brand of formalism, Merz , was important to his creation of the Merzbau . As the Merzbau was an architecturally informed sculpture, the concepts of space and time are investigated theoretically, and I frame Schwitters' work within the context of a modern conception of space. By combining space with time, through memory, the Merzbau aspired to a total experience. This concept of the total work of art was crucial to Schwitters' aesthetic philosophy. It informed the Merzbau's structure and content. Schwitters' model for the total work of art was organically based and like classical architecture it referenced the human body. But rather than representing an ideal human body I suggest the Merzbau referenced the grotesque. Through its location in Schwitters' bourgeois residence the Merzbau yields to a cultural critique for which I rely upon the assistance of the work of Schwitters' contemporary, Walter Benjamin. I compare the methodology of Benjamin's collector as presented in The Arcades Project with Schwitters' artistic process. They connect at many levels including the attachment to allegory. My thesis concludes by suggesting that the context within which an art experience should be situated needs to be broadened by a topological approach to art and art history. I suggest that the Merzbau pointed toward such a conclusion.