Dadaist Kurt Schwitters wanted to meet the painter
George Grosz. According to Hans
One day Schwitters decided he wanted to meet George Grosz. George
Grosz was decidedly surly; the hatred in his pictures often
overflowed into his private life. But Schwitters was not one to be
put off. He wanted to meet Grosz so Mehring took him up
to Grosz’s flat. Schwitters rang the bell and Grosz opened the
“Good morning, Herr Grosz. My name is Schwitters.”
not Grosz,” answered the other and slammed the door. There was
nothing to be done.
Halfway down the stairs Schwitters stopped and
said “Just a moment”.
Up the stairs he went and once more rang
Grosz’s bell. Grosz, enraged by the continual jangling, opened the
door, but before he could say a word, Schwitters said, “I am not
Schwitters, either.” And went downstairs again. Finis. They
never met again.
I read this as a teenager (in Richter's Dada: Art and Anti-Art) and
found it inspiring. Some days I identified as Schwitters, other
times as Grosz.
(Things I learned while preparing this article: 1. “Grosz” was
originally “Groß” and is German, not Polish, so I had been pronouncing
it wrong. 2. I had always imagined Grosz as small, twisted and ugly,
but he was quite