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Historically significant retrospective returns WWII artworks to the Isle of Man

Posted Tuesday 3 December 2013

Historically significant retrospective returns WWII works to the Isle of ManAn exhibition curated by Professor Fran Lloyd has marked the 65th anniversary of the death of prominent 20th century German artist Kurt Schwitters and commemorated his internment on the Isle of Man during World War II.

The 16 months from 1940–41 that Schwitters spent on the Isle of Man in Hutchinson Internment Camp are important in terms of the distinctive work he produced across various media and the friendships that he forged with fellow internees, including artists Fred Uhlman, Hermann Fechenbach, Erich Kahn, Hellmuth Weissenborn and Paul Hamann, and art historian Klaus E Hinrichsen.

The exhibition brought together 27 works produced by the artist including an audio recording of his famous Ursonate performance in London in 1944. Portraits of fellow internees Fred Uhlman, Klaus E Hinrichsen and Georg Heller feature alongside drawings, letters and photographs exploring camp life.

Speaking of the exhibition, Professor Lloyd said: "Bringing Kurt Schwitters's work back to the Isle of Man was important because it clearly demonstrated the way in which a major European artist responded to Douglas, the place he inhabited and the people he encountered. It also reminded us of the way in which the island, and indeed the British Isles, are part of a wider transnational history that is often forgotten."

Kurt Schwitters: Responses to Place was timed to follow the Tate Britain's Schwitters in Britain exhibition at the start of 2013, which later transferred to the Sprengel Museum in Schwitters' home city of Hannover, Germany.

Works have been generously loaned by institutions such as the Tate, the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, the Imperial War Museum and various private collections. Funded by the Isle of Man Arts Council and Manx Heritage Foundation, Kurt Schwitters: Responses to Place is part of the Isle of Man's Island of Culture: 2014 celebrations which continue throughout 2014, and is sponsored by Zurich International Life.