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The Cover
July 6, 2005

Construction for Noble Ladies

JAMA. 2005;294(1):15. doi:10.1001/jama.294.1.15

What others discarded the German artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) treasured: the no longer useful, the worn, the twisted, the bent, the damaged, objects tossed without further ado onto the common refuse heap. The sentiment, of course, that what is poison to one is meat to another is an ancient one: the Roman poet Lucretius was probably the first to record it; a millennium and a half later the dramatists Beaumont and Fletcher made a version of it for the English tongue (Love’s Cure, Act III); but it was only in the 20th century, at the end of World War I, that Kurt Schwitters translated it to the visual sphere, hung it on a wall, and dared to call it “fine art.” Moreover, his creations were not only visual. They were tactile, three-dimensional. For this he was called a Dadaist; although, ironically, the other Dada painters rejected both his work and his philosophy.

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