New materials and themes in London
On release from internment in November 1941 Schwitters moved to London and his work began to be shaped by the material culture of the wartime city. The fragments of paper and found objects that he collected from London’s streets were incorporated into his collages and assemblages. As his work was made from discarded everyday items, it reflected the environment in which it was made. The materials he used included sweet wrappers, bus tickets, metal toys, pieces of linoleum and a scrubbing brush.
Schwitters also explored the transformation of readymade images, using photographic reproductions of nineteenth-century paintings as a starting point for collages. He was fascinated by English words and typography, and incorporated fragmentary phrases which make references to contemporary popular culture and politics, and also seems to comment on the process of adapting to making his work in a new environment. He continued to make abstract paintings, using curving forms and the ‘pointilliste’ dots of paint that he had adopted in Norway in response to the qualities of colour and light in its landscape.