'Its essence is absolute uninhibitedness and impartiality... Merz means forging relationships, preferably between all things in the world' (Kurt Schwitters quoted in F. Lach, Kurt Schwitters: Das literarische Werk, vol. V, Cologne, 1973-1981, p. 187).
'Merz', a made-up word which takes its name from a fragment of the words 'Kommerz und Privatbank', was an artistic 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 neighbor in Hanover, Kate Steinitz, recalled, during this period Schwitters was frequently to be seen on the streets of Hanover, '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' (K.T. Steinitz, Kurt Schwitters: A Portrait from Life, Berkeley, 1968, p. 68). From these fragments, Schwitters constructed poetic and miraculous constellations that expressed a new formal language and seemed to hint at a hidden order among the apparent chaos of the times.
Executed in 1921, Mz 221. Dramatik is an early Merz collage made at a time of hyper-inflation, revolution and counter-revolution in Germany following the end of the First World War. In this 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 or foreign currency), Schwitters, alone in Hanover, established his own one-man avant-garde and 'cure' for the current age which he declared to be the 'Merz' revolution.