Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
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Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)

Mz 250, Grosser Tanz

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Mz 250, Grosser Tanz
signed, dated and inscribed 'Mz 250.K.Schwitters.21.Grosser Tanz.' (on the artist's mount)
paper and fabric collage on paper laid down on the artist' mount
image: 7 x 5¾ in. (17.9 x 14.5 cm.)
artist's mount: 10¾ x 8¼ in. (26.3 x 21 cm.)
Executed in 1921
Nassauisches Landesmuseum, Wiesbaden (on loan from the Nassauischer Kunstverein, by whom acquired before 1929); confiscated as 'degenerate art' (EK inv. no. 8746) by the Reichsministerium für Propaganda und Volksaufklärung on 26 August 1937.
Galerie Vömel, Dusseldorf, by 1967.
Acquired by the late husband of the present owner in 1971.
Beschlagnahme-Inventar, London, 1942, no. 8746 (erroneously presumed to be destroyed).
W. Schmalenbach, Kurt Schwitters, Cologne, 1967 (illustrated fig. 48).
J. Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, London, 1987 (illustrated pl. 22).
K. Orchard & I. Schulz (eds.), Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue raisonné, vol. I, 1905-1922, Hannover, 2000, no. 841, p. 401 (illsutrated).
Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus rheinisch-westfälischem Privatbesitz, April - June 1967, no. 328.
Dusseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Kurt Schwitters, January - March 1971, no. 58 (illustrated n.p.); this exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Basel, Kunsthalle and Hamburg, Kunstverein.
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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Cornelia Svedman
Cornelia Svedman

Lot Essay

With its spiraling geometric forms creating a dynamic swirling abstract dance of fractured colour, partial signage and typographic information Merz 250 Grosse Tanz is a magnificent Merzbild made during the first classic years of Schwitters' Merz production. A dynamic spatial construction of sharp, angular, geometric forms cut from tram tickets, newspaper cuttings, illustrations, posters and a whole range of other discarded paper and urban detritus, it is an essentially abstract work that articulates an entirely new and distinctly metropolitan world of energy, flux and ordered chaos.
Executed in 1921, Merz 250 Grosse Tanz was made at the height of the inflation years in Germany that followed the First World War and the November revolution of 1918. In an era of complete moral, political and financial bankruptcy when paper currency had lost its value and only food, work or lodging remained commodities of real value, other than gold and US dollars of course, Schwitters, alone in Hannover, established a one-man avant-garde and declared the 'Merz Revolution'. Merz, which took its name from a fragment of the words 'Kommerz und Privatbank' that appeared in one of his first collages, was a revolution in which art and life were to be merged through the 'business' of assembling fragments and detritus of modern life into new glorified forms and expressions of the triumph of the human spirit.
As Schwitters' friend and neighbour in Hannover, Kate Steinitz recalled, at this time Schwitters was frequently to be seen on the streets of Hannover, 'a crazy, original genius-character, carelessly dressed, absorbed in his own thoughts, picking up all sorts of curious stuff in the streets... always getting down from his bike to pick up some colourful piece of paper that somebody had thrown away.' (Kate Trauman Steinitz, Kurt Schwitters, A Portrait from Life, Berkeley, CA, 1968, p. 68)
From these collated fragments Schwitters constructed poetic and miraculous constellations expressing a new formal language that spoke of a hidden order amongst the apparent chaos. In Merz 250 Grosse Tanz, in a manner similar to that of contemporary Russian avant-garde artists of the time who were themselves postulating a utopian vision of a new post-Revolutionary world order of the spirit using only broken fragments and more-or-less any raw materials they could get their hands on, Schwitters too was articulating an entirely new vision of life. One that, as the strange rhythmic spatial and formal interconnections between the distinctly autonomous component parts of this Merzbild make clear embraces the idea of a hidden but universal ordering force at work within the world.

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