Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbild collages, of which Mz 26,39. Sicilien is an early example, belongs to a series of work which would consume the artist throughout his life and result in him becoming regarded as the leading exponent of the genre. Building on the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, who first began assembling pieces of found paper material in 1912, Schwitters abandons their figurative works and embraces the abstract. In many ways Schwitters’ work becomes the epitome of collage as Donald Kuspit defines it, “Collage destroys the effectiveness of the idea…that art’s highest achievement is not simply to create an illusion of life, but to function as a kind of representation of it. Life can be directly referenced—directly incorporated into art…Collage destroys the idea that life is a stable whole” (D. Kuspit, quoted by E. Hodermarsky, in The Synthetic Century: Collage from Cubism to Postmodernism, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 2002, p. 5). Here, in Mz 26,39. Sicilien and Ohne Titel (Mit braunem Kreis mit Sektorausschnit), Schwitters both “destroys” and “incorporates” the real world by laying down fragments of textured paper, pieces of packaging and even the printed page from a book into a geometric arrangement of flat color and form. Amid the strict geometry and utilitarian nature of the paper elements, there remains elements of “life” that can be seen in the annotations made in pencil upon the paper—a poignant reminder of the dichotomy that lies at the heart of collage.