Lot 400
  • 400

Kurt Schwitters

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  • Kurt Schwitters
  • signed KS (lower left), signed KS and dated 19 (lower right)
  • assemblage in the original artist's frame
  • 52 by 41cm., 20 1/2 by 16 1/8 in. (irregular)


Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin
Private Collection, Germany (acquired circa 1922)


Berlin, Galerie Der Sturm, 76. Ausstellung. Kurt Schwitters, M. Langenstrass-Uhlig, 1919, no. 2 (titled Bild mit Spielkarten)
Hildesheim, Roemer-Museum, MERZ Ausstellung. Gemälde und Zeichnungen von Kurt Schwitters, 1922
Zurich, Galerie Art Focus, Der Sturm, 2002, no. 68


Hans Goltz (ed.), 'Glossen, Skizzen und Notizen zur neuen Kunst', in Der Ararat, no. 1, Munich, 1921, illustrated p. 19 (titled Spielkartenharmonika)
Georges Hugnet, 'L'Esprit Dada dans la peinture, III. Cologne et Hanovre', in Cahiers d'art, no. 8-10, Paris, 1932, p. 358
Christian Zervos, Histoire de l'art contemporain, Paris, 1938, p. 412
Georges Hugnet, L'Aventure Dada (1916-1922), Paris, (1957) 1971, p. 192
Anton Henze, 'Über das Basteln in der modernen Kunst', in Das Kunstwerk, no. 7, 1958, vol. XI, p. 12
Albert Mertz & Kurt Merz Schwitters, 'Tidsskrift for Moderne Kunst', in Signum, no. 3, 1962, Norway, p. 9
Hans Richter, Dada-Kunst und Antikunst, Cologne, (1964) 1978, no. 72
Werner Schmalenbach, Kurt Schwitters, Cologne, 1967, no. 27
Georges Hugnet, Dictionnaire du Dadaïsme 1916-1922, Paris, 1976, p. 235
BKS Bildende Kunstneres Styre, Statens 91. Kunstutstilling, Oslo, 1978, p. 23
Kurt Schwitters 1887-1948 (exhibition catalogue), Sprengel Museum, Hanover, 1987, illustrated p. 289
Karin Orchard & Isabel Schulz, Kurt Schwitters Catalogue raisonné, 1905-1922, Hanover, 2000, vol. I, no. 440, illustrated p. 221 

Catalogue Note

After World War I, Kurt Schwitters became involved with Dada groups, first in Berlin in 1918 and then in Zurich the following year. The artist very quickly joined the avant-garde artistic life of the European capitals and developed a close relationship with Herwarth Walden and his Galerie der Sturm in Berlin. Herwarth Walden organised various exhibitions for the artist in Galerie der Sturm, where this work was shown shortly after its creation, as well as in other cities such as New York, increasing the artist’s international fame.  

The present work is a fine example of the artist’s early Merz assemblages in which he used materials surrounding him in everyday life in an almost diaristic method. Here, Schwitters has built up a relief from various everyday materials including strips of paper, playing cards, fabric and wire. Over the course of time the surface of some of these elements such as the playing cards, has faded or deteriorated compared to the photograph reproduced in the literature mentioned above. Commenting about this series of works the artist explained ‘The word Merz denotes essentially the combination of all conceivable materials for artistic purposes, and technically the principle of equal evaluation of the individual materials. … The artist creates through the choice, distribution and metamorphosis of the materials’ (quoted in J. Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, London, 1985, p.50).

This work will be included in the Schwitters Catalogue raisonné as Merzbild 5a Spielkartenharmonika.