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Merz Construction

Kurt Schwitters, German, 1887 - 1948

Made in Germany, Europe

c. 1921

Assemblage: painted wood, wire mesh, cardboard, paper

15 x 8 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches (38.1 x 21 x 6.4 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 280, Modern and Contemporary Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
A. E. Gallatin Collection, 1952

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This construction is a classic example of Merz, an art form invented by Kurt Schwitters that included collage, poetry, graphic design, and sculpture. Schwitters adopted the name from a 1918 assemblage that included the fragment “merz” excerpted from a poster for the Commerz und Privatbank (Commercial and Private Bank). His brightly colored collages and assemblages celebrate the potential of leftover materials while blurring the boundary between art and life.


A. E. Gallatin, New York, by March 1936, probably purchased from the artist during the summer of 1935 through Jean (Hans) Arp [1]; bequest to PMA, 1952. 1. The work appears in the MoMA exhibition catalogue, "Cubism and Abstract Art," published April 1936, as a loan from Gallatin. According to Jean Hélion, "it was through Jean (Hans) Arp that Gallatin got in touch with Schwitters" (Gail Stavitsky, interview with Hélion, 1986, quoted in The Development, Institutionalization, and Impact of the A.E. Gallatin Collection of Modern Art [Ph. D. dissertation, New York University], 1990, v. 1, p. 289, see also v. 9, p. 269).

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.