Lot 307
  • 307

Kurt Schwitters

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Kurt Schwitters
  • Ohne Titel (Bild mit rotem Gummiball) (Untitled (Red-Rubber-Ball Picture))
  • Signed with the initials KS and dated 42 (lower right); signed Kurt Schwitters, dated 30.12.1942 and inscribed pinxit 39 Westmoreland Road London SW13 (on the reverse)
  • Collage, oil, rubber, wood, ceramic, stone, glass and nails on board
  • Including artist's frame: 23 3/8 by 19 3/8 in.
  • 59.3 by 49.1 cm


Ernst Schwitters, Lysaker (by descent from the artist in 1948)
Marlborough Gallery, London & Vaduz (acquired in 1963)
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne (acquired in 1980)
Tate Gallery, London (acquired in 1985)
Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Karuizawa (possibly acquired in 1991)
Acquired by the present owner in 2011 


Sao Paulo, VI Bienal de São Paulo & Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Kurt Schwitters, 1961, no. 70 
Stockholm, Konstsalongen Samlaren, Kurt MERZ Schwitters, 1887-1948, Retrospektivt, 1962, no. 164, illustrated in the catalogue
Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Kölnischer Kunstverein, Kurt Schwitters, 1887-1948, 1963, no. 237, illustrated in the catalogue
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Kurt Schwitters, 1887-1948, Schilderijen, collages, sculpturen, tekeningen, 1964, no. 237, illustrated in the catalogue
Mailand, Galeria Toninelli Arte Moderna, Schwitters. Mostra retrospettiva, 1964, no. 97, illustrated in the catalogue 
Dusseldorf, Stadtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Kurt Schwitters, 1971, no. 232
London, Marlborough Fine Art & New York, Marlborough Gallery, Kurt Schwitters, 1972, no. 71, illustrated in the catalogue
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Meisterwerke der Moderne, 1981, no. 172, illustrated in color in the catalogue
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Kurt Schwitters in Exile: The Late Work 1937-1948, 1981, no. 62, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Meisterwerke der Moderne, 1982, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Kurt Schwitters, 1982, no. 138, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Tokyo, Seibu Museum of Art, Kurt Schwitters, 1983, no. 148, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Cologne, Museum Ludwig, Kurt Schwitters, Die Späten Werke, 1985, no. 44, illustrated in color in the catalogue
New York, Museum of Modern Art; London, Tate Gallery & traveling, Kurt Schwitters, 1985-86, no. 78, illustrated in the catalogue
Hanover, Sprengel Museum & traveling, Kurt Schwitters 1887-1948, Austellungen zum 99, Geburstag, 1986-87, no. 115, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Tokyo, Asahi Shimbun, Arts & Publicité, 1991, no. 167, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Kurt Schwitters, 1994, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, Kurt Schwitters, 1995, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Dian Pouw, "Kurt Schwitters in Hanover," in Un Vrij Nederland, Hanover, 1986, illustrated p. 27
John Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, Dusseldorf, 1987, illustrated in color p. 42
Thomas Bertram, Chronik 1942. Tag für Tag in Wort und Bild, Dortmund, 1991, illustrated in color p. 160
Jean-Christophe Bailly, Kurt Schwitters, Paris, 1993, illustrated p. 117
Lucio Cabutti,"Informatico vulcanico rivoluzionario Kurt Schwitters," in Arte, Cahier 272, April, 1996, illustrated p. 96
Karin Orchard & Isabel Schulz, Kurt Schwitters, Catalogue Raisonné 1937-1948, vol. III, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2000, no. 2894, illustrated in color p. 340


This work is in overall very good condition. Executed on board within the artist's original frame. The board is sound, there is a very slight curvature only noticeable at the center of the lower and upper edges. The elements are variously glued and nailed to the board. All appear to be secure and positioned as the artist intended. The paper collage elements are very well preserved and the surface retains a rich texture. The nails are secured to the board with a small wooden block that is visible on the verso. Nails are slightly rusty but show no signs of inherent weakness. Under UV light: no retouching is apparent.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This courageously avant-garde assemblage dates from 1942, the year following Schwitter's release from exile on the Isle of Man. At this time he was living in England and continuing work on his Merz compositions. Writing about the artist's later works, John Elderfield comments, "The creation of order, as much as the order itself, was the subject of what he did: the sense of competition between the artist and his surroundings that is given along with the order adds drama and excitement even to his smallest creations. And that, as much as the order itself, carries with it the power to touch us—if only because it tells of a struggle we all must know. For Schwitters, it was a kind of struggle that admitted no final or single victory, but had to be fought out daily as new surroundings, new styles, new influences kept on altering the context in which he worked. Neither this nor the order to which he was committed ever changed. The point of order he wrested from the tumult of his early revolutionary years became the ideal to which he was henceforth committed. The fight for that order continued throughout his life" (John Elderfield, Kurt Schwitters, 1985, p. 240).

The assembled nature of Schwitters' most accomplished collages and large-scale compositions, the present work included, infuses new life and purpose into the found objects he incorporates in his art. Schwitters creates a uniquely poetic and even nostalgic conversation from his careful selection and combinations of these objects, paving the way for a generation of artists to follow suit, perhaps most importantly in the shape of the famed boxes of Joseph Cornell (see fig. 1).