Kurt Schwitters, a German artist associated with the Dada movement, is known for his Merz Pictures collages. Among many others, he created “The Hitler Gang” in 1944, a collage analyzed using the iconographic and iconological criticism method. Schwitters was forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1937 and lost his original Merzbau in an Allied bombing raid. He then began creating art from discarded materials found on the streets.
Schwitters’ “The Hitler Gang” collage incorporates various materials, including Nazi administrative labels and a section of printed Norwegian text. While the piece’s title suggests its inspiration came from Adolf Hitler and his associates, some scholars believe that it may have been intended to mock them instead given Schwitters’ opposition to Fascism.
Despite being exiled by the Nazis, Schwitters was not immune to their propaganda as seen through inclusion of those labels within this work. However, he would not let it bring him down as he continued producing more pieces out of found and recycled materials until his death.
In summary, “The Hitler Gang” is one of Kurt Schwitters’ iconic collages that provides insight into both his creativity and opposition towards Fascism while utilizing removed items that would have otherwise gone unnoticed on the street corners.