Are artists hoarders?

Kurt Schwitters guggenheim

Kurt Schwitters , was a German artist who made collage from found materials. I adore his work but I was horrified to discover that he probably had a hoarding disorder. He was so attached to found stuff for his collages that he would take a suitcase of junk with him where ever he went.

He even had little stashes of junk at friends houses so that he could work on his art when ever he liked. But it was his house that was the most scary  – inside his house he created columns of junk which contained individual shrines consisting of mementos of his friends (some of which he stole from them!). These columns got larger and larger and eventually he got to the point where he wanted to extend the column through the roof and into flat above him (which he owned). His family had to live in around the chaos.

This has made me nervous. I also make collage and I find it very hard to throw out found junk which I collect as resource material. Found junk is unique – you might not ever find something similar again – or at least that’s how I rationalise keeping it! Yet learning about an extreme example of hoarding art materials has given me some perspective on my own situation. It has reinforced just how essential it is to have some kind of boundaries around how much you keep, even if it’s just rusty junk and old papers!

I have now decided to limit my collage material to just one small  suitcase. Do you have trouble keeping boundaries around your art materials?

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