Schwitters was an innovator in many art forms, but it is perhaps through his architectural scale installations, the Merzbauten (Merz Buildings), that he exerted his greatest influence on modern art and architecture.
The first of these, the Hanover Merzbau is the most widely known and best documented, although it was destroyed by a stray bomb in 1943. A reconstruction of the main rom was made in 1983 by the Swiss designer Peter Bissegger working from photographs of the original and with advice from Schwitters' son Ernst. This installation is now on permanent display at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover.
Schwitters began work on two more Merzbau installations in Norway, but again little evidence remains of them now.
Schwitters' last Merzbau was built during the final years of his life, in a shed near Elterwater, and although unfinished at the time of the artist's death in 1948 is now regarded as one of the great pioneering works of modern art and architecture.
Relatively little remains of any of the Merzbau structures. The original Merzbau in Hanover was lost in the bombing of the city, the Lysaker Merzbau burned to the ground in 1950, and the two remaining Merzbauten, the Schwittershytta in Norway and the Merz Barn in England, exist as degraded structures, with key fragments of the Merz art works they contained having been lost or dispersed for exhibition elsewhere.
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