Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buy… Read more Christie’s is delighted to have been appointed by UniCredit to manage the sale of artworks from Austria, Germany and Italy. The proceeds will be primarily used to support the further roll-out of the Group’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) initiatives. The remaining balance will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the support of emerging artists. Following the excellent results of a selection of artworks already presented at various Christie’s international salerooms in 2019, 2020 will begin with the first pieces being offered in London on 6 February as part of the Impressionist & Modern Art Day and Works on Paper sales. UniCredit will also look to replace the masterpieces sold with works of young and emerging artists. The offering is led by Walter Dexel’s Segelschiff I, one of only five known avant-gardist representations of sailing boats within the German artist’s series of works on technical modern inventions. Completed in 1922, this superb example of Dexel’s distinct Constructivist idiom dates from a key period when the artist came into close contact with a network of influential figures of the early 20th-century art circuit namely Jean (Hans) Arp, El Lissitzky and contemporaries associated with the Bauhaus movement including the likes of Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius. Another star lot from this outstanding group is a work by a member of Dexel’s circle – Kurt Schwitters’ Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. The painting combines large areas of delicately painted geometric shapes, organic abstract forms and collage elements – exemplary of Schwitters’ growing interest in the raw and tactile physicality of paint during the late period of his artistic career. An exceptional selection from the Works on Paper sale completes the grouping, with three other fantastic works by Schwitters, Dexel’s Quadrat und Kreis (circa 1926) and Franz Radziwill’s Strandszene mit Krüppeln (1922). Social Impact Banking is part of UniCredit’s commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive society. It aims to identify, finance and promote people and companies that can have a positive social impact. As well as continuing to provide credit to projects and organisations not usually served by the traditional banking sector, UniCredit employees educate micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, building valuable networks within our communities. SIB also focuses on monitoring and measuring outcomes, essential for sustainable growth. In 2019 SIB focused on further roll-out in additional UniCredit markets, including: Germany, Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. UniCredit is a successful pan-European Commercial Bank, with a fully plugged in CIB, delivering a unique Western, Central and Eastern European network to its extensive client franchise. UniCredit offers both local and international expertise to its clients, providing them with unparalleled access to leading banks in its fourteen core markets through its European banking network. Leveraging on an international network of representative offices and branches, UniCredit serves clients in another eighteen countries worldwide.ART FOR FUTURE – SELECTED WORKS FROM THE UNICREDIT GROUP
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)

Ohne Titel (Gute Laune)

Details
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Ohne Titel (Gute Laune)
oil and collage on board
24 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (63.2 x 50.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1945
Provenance
Edith 'Wantee' Thomas, London, by descent from the artist in 1948, and until 1988; sale, Phillips, London, 28 November 1988, lot 39.
Galerie Schwarzer, Dusseldorf, by whom acquired in 1989.
Bernd Schneider Internationaler Kunsthandel, Röthenbach, by 1990.
Heiner Bastian Fine Arts, Berlin, by 1991.
Galerie Michael Werner, Cologne, by whom acquired in 1991, and until 1996.
Achenbach Kunsthandel, Dusseldorf.
Acquired by the present owner from the above on 25 November 1996.
Literature
Mary Burkey [Abbot Hall Art Gallery], Kendal, inventory list, 1960/1970, no. 103.
Weltkunst, vol. 54, no. 4, 15 February 1989, p. 417 (illustrated).
HypoVereinsbank, Sammlung HypoVereinsbank. Von der klassischen Moderne bis zur Gegenwart, Munich, 2000, p. 20 (illustrated p. 21).
K. Orchard & I. Schulz, eds., Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue raisonné, vol. III, 1937-1948, Ostfildern, 2006, no. 3155, p. 462 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kurt Schwitters in the Lake District, October - November 1964, no. 3.
Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kurt Schwitters in England, January - February 1982, no. 60.
Dusseldorf, Achenbach Kunsthandel, Kurt Schwitters, November 1993 - January 1994, no. 26.
Zurich, Galerie Lelong, Kurt Schwitters, April - June 1994, no. 19.
New York, Galerie Michael Werner, Kurt Schwitters. Late Paintings and Collages, May - June 1995, no. 23.
Traunstein, Rathaus Traunstein, Klassische Moderne bis zur Gegenwart, July 2007.
Bologna, MAMbo, La Grande Magia, February - October 2013, p. 65 (illustrated).
Special notice

VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buyer's premium

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Lot Essay


Executed circa 1945, Ohne Titel (Gute Laune) dates from the period when Kurt Schwitters was living with Edith Thomas, known as ‘Wantee’, in Barnes, London, and attempting to integrate himself with the avant-garde of the city during the harsh final years of the Second World War. In December 1944, Schwitters held his sole one-man show in England, at the Modern Art Gallery. At this exhibition, Herbert Read announced Schwitters as ‘the supreme master of the collage’, pointing out that the artist had devised a practice of ‘making art out of anything’ by ‘taking up the stones which the builders had rejected and making something of them’. ‘I doubt,’ Read continued, ‘that Schwitters would like to be called a mystic, but there is nevertheless in his whole attitude to art a deep protest against the chromium-plated conception of modernism. The bourgeois love slickness and polish: Schwitters hates them. He leaves the edges rough, his surfaces uneven’ (H. Read, ‘Kurt Schwitters’, Paintings and Sculptures of Kurt Schwitters, The Founder of Dadaism and “Merz", London, 1944, n.p.).

Gute Laune combines large areas of delicately painted geometric shapes with collage elements – a juxtaposition of real objects and soft geometric ones. During his late period, Schwitters took a growing interest in the very substance of paint, which lends the work a painterly and tactile physicality. This is seen in the present lot in the emphasis on surface and on the various textures the painted areas display, alongside the collage element that finely merges with the oil paint, providing an intrinsic cohesion to the whole. Both the title and the jovial palette of Gute Laune give a lightness and delicacy to the painting. This cheerfulness can very well be seen as reflecting the artist’s new-found freedom and success after many years as persecuted fugitive. It is clear that here Schwitters, with the confidence and self-assurance of a mature artist, draws upon his broad technical skills and multitude of artistic expressions, to create an artwork which possesses the ‘intensification of expression’ that he himself famously predicted a few years earlier in a letter to his wife Helma.

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