- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
Kurt Schwitters, German (Hanover, Germany 1887 - 1948 Kendal, England)
- Work Type
- c. 1922
- Physical Descriptions
- Paper and fabric collage elements and graphite on brown wove paper
- 29.7 x 24.1 cm (11 11/16 x 9 1/2 in.)
- The Fredric Wertham Collection, gift of his wife Hesketh; to the Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1987.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, The Fredric Wertham Collection, Gift of his wife Hesketh
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 1500 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Expressionism-Interwar) , written 2014
Originating in 1916 in Zurich, a safe haven for artists during World War I, the Dada movement quickly spread throughout Europe and the United States. Like other Dadaists, close friends Höch (based in Berlin) and Schwitters (located in Hanover) used everyday materials and collage techniques both to signal an end to traditional notions of culture and to act as an analogy for postwar society. Best known for her provocative use of photomontage and her exploration of the “New Woman” in Weimar society, Höch here (BR56.46) reconfigures sewing and embroidery patterns from women’s magazines into an abstract composition, which nonetheless makes reference—wholly positive, from Höch’s perspective—to domestic craft.
Working during the inflationary postwar period, Schwitters called his artistic approach “Merz,” from the German Kommerz (commerce). In Untitled (Kao), (1987.82) he incorporates discarded materials, such as a disassembled box of cocoa (Kakao). An example of his late work, done in exile in Britain, Untitled (Ministry of Food) (2013.45) is comprised of ration coupons issued by the British Ministry of Food, cigarette packages, and bus tickets, all thinly layered on corrugated cardboard. Though such remnants may be identifiable, Schwitters did not attempt to create legible references or fixed meanings; rather, he saw the work in its entirety as a form of protest. “One can even shout with refuse,” he declared.
- Publication History
Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 135
Isabel Schulz, ed., Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage (2010), Cat. 29, p. 46, illus.
- Exhibition History
Kurt Schwitters, Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig, 01/27/2000 - 03/26/2000
Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage, Menil Collection, Houston, 10/22/2010 - 01/30/2011
32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/06/2015; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/10/2016 - 10/19/2016
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