Lot 23
  • 23

Kurt Schwitters

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Kurt Schwitters
  • signed K. Schwitters on the artist's mount
  • collage on paper laid down on the artist's mount
  • sheet size: 18.1 by 14cm. 7 1/8 by 5 1/2 in.
  • mount size: 26.5 by 21.5cm. 10 3/8 by 8 1/2 in.


Ernst Schwitters, Lysaker (the artist's son; by descent from the artist in 1948; until 1956)
G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh (acquired in 1956; until 1961)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired in 1961)
Paul Hänggi, Basel (acquired in 1961; until 1963)
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired in 1963)
Ernst Schwitters, Lysaker & Marlborough Fine Art, London (jointly acquired in 1963; until 1966)
Mr & Mrs Crawford A. Black (acquired in 1966. Sold: Christie's, New York, 20th May 1982, lot 158)
Private Collection, Malibu, California (sold: Sotheby's, New York, 12th May 1994, lot 266)
Private Collection, New York (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 17th November 1998, lot 363)
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


Zurich, Kunsthaus; Düsseldorf, Kunstmuseum & The Hague, Haags Gemeentemuseum, Thompson Pittsburgh: Aus einer amerikanischen Privatsammlung, 1960-61, no. 224 (no. 213 in The Hague)
London, Marlborough Fine Art; Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum und Kölnischer Kunstverein; Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen & Rome, Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Kurt MERZ Schwitters, 1963-64, no. 173 (no. 171 in London)
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Masters at Janis, 1996
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 20th Century Masters, 1997
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 50th Anniversary Exhibition. Selection from the Last Decade, 1998


Karin Orchard & Isabel Schulz, Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2003, vol. II, no. 1888, illustrated p. 401

Catalogue Note

The scraps of text in Ohne Titel (Rote Rose), while not forming a traceable narrative, provide us with staccato references to individual, quotidian episodes of history that would otherwise be discarded and neglected. The enigmatic and elusive nature of these references further serves to elevate them to a universal and eternal level. This work is closely aligned with examples of Analytical Cubism as practiced by Juan Gris and Pablo Picasso through the application of text, which shatters the illusion of naturalism and three-dimensional representation, allowing the viewer to consider the pictorial surface within an abstract discourse.

As well as working on collages such as those presented here, Schwitters devoted much of his energy to converting his home into a Merzbau that reflected his aesthetic and philosophy. This, tragically, was entirely destroyed by an allied bomb in 1943. Kate Trauman Steinitz, a friend and neighbour of the artist in Hanover, provided a personal account of Schwitters and his working method: ‘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. Trauman Steinitz, Kurt Schwitters, A Portrait from Life, Berkeley, California, 1968, p. 68). Schwitters worked in Germany until 1936, the year before his work was included in the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition organised by the National Socialists. He sheltered in Norway until it was invaded by Germany in 1940, when he moved to Britain.