Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)

Ohne Titel (Schweres Relief)

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Ohne Titel (Schweres Relief)
signed with the intials and dated 'KS 45' (lower right)
oil, cement, wood, leather, plastic and glue on joined panel
21 3/8 x 17 7/8 in. (54.2 x 45.5 cm.)
Executed in 1945
Ernst Schwitters, Lysaker, 1948-1980.
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, by whom acquired from the above in 1980
through the agency of Lord's Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989.
L. Alloway, Schwitters, London, 1958 (illustrated p. 41).
Weltkunst, vol. 22, 1958 (illustrated p. 12).
H. Hutton, Collages, London, 1967, p. 18 (illustrated).
W. Schmalenbach, Kurt Schwitters, Cologne, 1967, no. 159 (illustrated).
'Dossier Kurt Schwitters', in Artistes, vol. VI, October/November 1980 (illustrated p. 7).
Art Press, vol. 41, October 1980 (illustrated p. 10).
Guadalimar. Revista mensual de las artes, no. VI, vol. 54, 1980, p. 22.
J. Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, New York, 1985 (illustrated fig. XXVIII).
J. Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, Dusseldorf, 1987 (illustrated p. 43).
J.C. Bailly, Kurt Schwitters, Paris, 1993 (illustrated p. 107).
J.M. Fehlhaber, H. Drees & W. Knopp, Beton und Kunst, Dusseldorf, 1997 (illustrated p. 11).
K. Orchard & I. Schulz (ed.), Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, Bonn, 2000, no. 3148 (illustrated p. 459).
London, Lords Gallery, Schwitters, 1958, no. 64 (illustrated fig. E).
Cambridge, Arts Council Gallery, Schwitters, November - December 1959, no. 106 (illustrated fig. 106); this exhibition later travelled to Swansea, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery; Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery; Leicester, Museum and Art Gallery; Coventry, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow, University Print Room.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, 1963, no. 252.
Munster, Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Reliefs, 1980, no. 87 (illustrated p. 181); this exhibition later travelled to Zurich, Kunsthaus.
Paris, Grand Palais, FIAC, Galerie Gmurzynska, Kurt Schwitters, October 1980, no. 53 (illustrated p. 105).
Cologne, Museen der Stadt, Westkunst: Zeitgenössische Kunst seit 1939, 1981, no. 112 (illustrated p. 352).
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Kurt Schwitters: Die späten Werke, April - May 1985, no. 64 (illustrated p. 90).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Kurt Schwitters, June - October 1985, no. XXVIII (illustrated); this exhibition
later travelled to London, The Tate Gallery, no. 85.
St. Paul de Vence, Fondation Maeght, L'Oeuvre Ultime: De Cézanne à Dubuffet, 1989, no. 84 (illustrated p. 185).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1945 while Schwitters was living in exile in England, Schweres Relief (Heavy Relief) is one of the largest and finest examples of the artist's late work. It marks a highpoint of a great flowering period of creativity when, living under impoverished and difficult circumstances, Schwitters began to work with a renewed vigour forging a new structural logic to his work by fusing old and new techniques.

Comprising both organic and geometric shapes heavily textured with plaster, Heavy Relief is a work that has both grown out of, and which openly reflects, the many areas of Schwitters' prodigious and wide-ranging creativity. One of the finest examples of the artist's late style that suddenly flourished in the Lake District after several troubled years of isolation, internment and exile, Heavy Relief is a culminatory work that eloquently articulates a fusion of his former achievements with the natural environment of his new rural surroundings.

Throughout the 1930s Schwitters had spent much time visiting his son Ernst in Norway. There, immersed in nature and the rural environment of the Moldefjord, natural and organic forms had grown increasingly prevalent in his work; their fluid linearity being incorporated into the constructivism of his work in a way that generated a new, strange and fascinating geometry. It is a unique and elemental seeming geometry emphasized particularly in the series of plaster sculptures that Schwitters made throughout his career and where, usually in a vertical format, a simple plaster form articulates a sense of an organic or elemental logic of construction.

Schwitters' return to a natural environment with his move to Ambleside in the Lake District in 1945 similarly inspired and awoke in his work a deep feeling for natural and organic form that had remained more muted during his recent years in London. Indeed, it was an element that soon came to dominate his work of these last years and which was to culminate in the vast relief he made in a disused barn in Elterwater in 1947 but never finished. This third Merzbau, the so-called Merzbarn, was intended to represent the ultimate fusion of nature and the constructivist logic of Merz assemblage.

A large relief laid out on a monochrome white plaster background Heavy Relief is one of the triumphant examples of Schwitters' work from this culminating period in Schwitters' life and work. With its wooden circles recalling the constructivsm of the Merzbilds of the 1920s (as well as the art of former friends and colleagues like Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky) it in part seems to echo the mathematical geometry that underpinned Schwitters' earlier more doctrinaire 'International Constructivist' style. With its sparse conglomeration of disparate, intriguing and enigmatic elements laid out on a white rectangle, it is also a work that in some respects seems to recall such other bold constructions of simple found elements as Merzbild Kjkduin of 1923 or the Kleines Seemannsheim of 1926. At the same time, however, unlike these earlier works, the increased abstraction of Heavy Relief, caused by the ambiguous and non-urban nature of what are both found and man-made elements, generates an underlying sense of a cohesive natural order in the work that is wholly absent in such earlier Merzbilds.

Part relief, part assemblage, part Merzbild, part sculpture, the appropriately-named Heavy Relief is one of Schwitters' most powerful statements about Merz's unfailing ability to evolve and integrate its aesthetic into all areas of life and into ever new and surprising surroundings and environments.

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