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

Ohne Titel (Mit Schlitz)

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Ohne Titel (Mit Schlitz)
oil and pencil on metal
Height: 9 1/8 in. (23.3 cm.)
Width: 6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm.)
Depth: 1/2 in. (1.4 cm.)
Painted in 1942-1945
Ernst Schwitters, Lysaker (son of the artist).
Lord's Gallery, London (acquired from the above, 1958).
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner, 1959.
S. Themerson, Kurt Schwitters in England, London, 1958, p. 23 (illustrated in color).
K. Orchard and I. Schulz, eds., Kurt Schwitters: Catalogue raisonné, 1937-1948, Ostfildern, 2006, vol. III, p. 378, no. 2922 (illustrated).
London, Lord's Gallery, Kurt Schwitters, October-November 1958, no. 51 (illustrated in color on the cover and illustrated in color again on the private view card for the exhibition; titled With a Slit).

Lot Essay

Executed between 1942 and 1946 while Schwitters was living in exile in England, Ohne Titel (Mit Schlitz) is a highly finished example of the artist's late work. It marks a highpoint of a great flowering period of creativity when, living under impoverished and difficult circumstances, Schwitters began to work with a renewed vigor forging a new structural logic to his work by fusing old and new techniques.
Here, a found sheet of metal forms the starting point of a tightly constructed composition. With its pared-down elements recalling the constructivism of the Merzbilds of the 1920s (as well as the art of friends and colleagues like László Moholy-Nagy and El Lissitzky), the present painting seems to echo the mathematical geometry that underpinned Schwitters' earlier more doctrinaire “International Constructivist” style.
Throughout the 1930s Schwitters had spent much time visiting his son Ernst in Norway. There, immersed in nature and the rural environment of the Moldefjord, natural and organic forms had grown increasingly prevalent in his work; their fluid linearity being incorporated into the constructivism of his work in a way that generated a new, strange and fascinating geometry.
Schwitters' return to a natural environment with his move to Ambleside in the Lake District in 1945 similarly inspired and awoke in his work a deep feeling for natural and organic form that had remained more muted during his recent years in London. Indeed, it was an element that soon came to dominate his work of these last years and which was to culminate in the vast relief he made in an abandoned stone barn in Elterwater in 1947 but never finished. This third Merzbau, the so-called Merzbarn, was intended to represent the ultimate fusion of nature and the constructivist logic of Merz assemblage.

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