Schwitters rejected the conventional values of the art establishment in favor of a deliberately nonsensical and deconstructive approach, which he believed would eventually lead to reconstruction. Declaring that “Everything had broken down in any case and new things had to be made out of the fragments” (quoted in L. Dickerman, Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hanover, Cologne, New York, Paris, Washington, D.C., 2005, p. 159), he developed his own radically personal form of expression which he called Merz – reportedly taking the name from “Commerz Bank” which appeared on a scrap of paper he used in one of his own Dada collages. Despite this, he had a deep connection to the formal values of art, and starting in 1922 he showed the influence of the International Constructivists, particularly evident in the present lot. The artist must certainly have seen the 1922 Van Dieman exhibition of Russian art, including a large group of Suprematist works by Malevich and many examples of the Russian Constructivist School. Ohne Titel (Konstruktion mit Rotem Kreis und Schwarzem Dreieck) sees Schwitters emulating Malevich’s shapes and the principles of Elementarism, whereby works of art are constructed from basic geometric forms viewed as universal constants. He distills the intrinsic compositional geometry of his collages to a few bold shapes in black and red tempera.
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