This thesis analyzes the emergence of a new kind of artistic project, three-dimensional spatial works, in the careers of Kurt Schwitters and El Lissitzky during the 1920s. It proposes that two works of these artists, the Merzbau and the Abstract Cabinet, created oppositional models of modern space: one of a chaos that drew on unconscious desires and drives and another that sought to drain the vestiges of ritual out of the display of artworks. By investigating these works in their historical context linking Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia and in the social context of the friendship between the artists and the proximity of their works in the city of Hannover, this dissertation seeks to show the centrality of spatial concerns in modernism. For Lissitzky, his spatial works of the 1920s were to form a basis for a proletarian culture. Conversely, Schwitters offered a critique of the interiority of bourgeois experience from within.
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