Collection 1880s–1940s

Jean (Hans) Arp. Mustache Hat (Schnurrhut) from Merz 5. 7 Arpaden by Hans Arp. Arp Portfolio. Second Portfolio of the Merz Publisher (Merz 5. 7 Arpaden von Hans Arp. Arp Mappe. Zweite Mappe des Merzverlages). 1923

One from a portfolio of seven lithographs, composition (irreg.): 10 3/4 x 13" (27.3 x 33 cm); sheet: 17 3/4 x 13 3/4" (45.1 x 34.9 cm). Gift of J. B. Neumann. © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Curator, Anne Umland: The artist Kurt Schwitters was famously refused entry in Berlin's club Dada, and in reaction launched his own countermovement, which he called ‘Merz,’ taken from a fragment of the German word ‘Kommerz,’ or commerce.

Arp, like Schwitters, was a poet. And the interplay between the verbal and the visual, a slippage between the two is perhaps nowhere better seen than in this series of seven Arpaden, published in 1923.

Each one of these seven boldly graphic images came with a very particular title. The first one's title is Mustache Hat. Then as you move through the series there are different forms: naval bottle, mustache watch, egg beater, Arabic eight.

All of the titles and shapes themselves are purposefully open-ended to provoke as many associations as possible.