KURT SCHWITTERS (1887-1948)
KURT SCHWITTERS (1887-1948)
KURT SCHWITTERS (1887-1948)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE DEUTSCHE BANK COLLECTION
KURT SCHWITTERS (1887-1948)

Ohne Titel (Contramerk.)

Details
KURT SCHWITTERS (1887-1948)
Ohne Titel (Contramerk.)
paper collage on cardboard
5 1/4 x 4 5/8 in. (13.3 x 11 cm.)
Executed in 1923
Provenance
Ernst Schwitters, the artist's son, Lysaker.
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, by 1993.
Acquired by the present owner in 1993.
Literature
A. Grigoteit (ed.), Ein Jahrhundert: Sammlung Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, 2001, p. 53 (illustrated).
K. Orchard & I. Schulz (eds.), Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue raisonné, vol. II, 1923-1936, Hannover, 2003, no. 1130, p. 55 (illustrated pp. 55 & 135).
Exhibited
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Auf Papier, Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus der Deutschen Bank, March - April 1995, no. 191, p. 312 (illustrated p. 313); this exhibition later travelled to Berlin, Berlinischen Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Photographie und Architektur, May - July 1995; and Leipzig, Museum der bildenden Künste, August - September 1995.
Heerlen, Stadsgalerij, Kurt Schwitters in Nederland. Merz, De Stijl & Holland Dada, March - June 1997, no. 7, p. 131 (illustrated p. 51).
Bozen, Museion, Abstracta: Austria Germania Italia, 1919-1939, Die andere "entartete Kunst". L'altra "arte degenerata", September - November 1997, no. 30 (illustrated p. 127); this exhibition later travelled to Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, November 1997 - January 1998; and Trento, Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Palazzo delle Albere, January - March 1998.
Hanover, Sprengel Museum, In the Beginning was MERZ - from Kurt Schwitters to the Present Day, August - November 2000, no. 82, p. 322 (illustrated p. 111); this exhibition later travelled to Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, November 2000 - February 2001; and Munich, Haus der Kunst, March - May 2001.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. Please see Christies.com for further details.

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Imogen Kerr
Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay


In the 1920s Kurt Schwitters created a new type of artwork which he called 'Merz'. The origins of the term come from a cut-out he made of a bank advertisement which featured the German word 'kommerz' (commerce). The overarching concept of Merz works was to expand the boundaries of art genres and art making through the introduction of found materials. Schwitter’s work would become synonymous with Merz and he would spend his life developing the idea into what is now seen as a precursor of installation art.

Many Merz collages were made from things that Schwitters found in the streets, unneeded or left behind - these included tickets, receipts, stamps, newspaper cut-outs, checkroom numbers and other various scraps, which the artist believed could be used just as well as manufactured pigments. His inclusion of found items did not imply a rejection of traditional painting techniques, but, on the contrary, it was an opportunity to supplant and enhance them. By removing discarded items out of their daily context, Schwitters aimed to liberate them from semantic meaning, their function remaining to provide colour value for the composition. However, despite the artist’s idea that his Merz works were abstract, the found items remained vestiges of the modern world shaped by industrial production, consumerism and media.

The geometric structure that Schwitters imposes on these sourced second-hand papers can also be interpreted as an attempt to create order from the chaos of the surrounding post-World War I Germany. In the hyperinflationary years that he was living through, when paper currency had lost its value, Schwitters used Merz to make social commentary on art, luxury goods and commodities. In the current work, the passenger’s ticket with the Dutch word ‘Contramerk’ could stand for the concept of countermarking coins which was often done when currency was reformed.

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