Kurt Schwitters. Merz Picture 32 A. The Cherry Picture (Merzbild 32 A. Das Kirschbild). 1921

Kurt Schwitters Merz Picture 32 A. The Cherry Picture (Merzbild 32 A. Das Kirschbild) 1921

  • Not on view

At the center of this large-scale assemblage sits a vocabulary card printed with a cluster of orange cherries and the German and French words for the fruit. Above, scrawled in pencil, floats the phrase Ich liebe Dir!: faulty German for “I love you” (Ich liebe dich). The words invoke Schwitters’s 1919 poem “To Anna Blume,” which first established his fame.

Schwitters constructed this assemblage from scraps of modern life collected on the streets of Hannover: commercial labels, newspaper clippings, printed and handwritten text, bits of fabric and wood, and two corks, among other items. In arranging the topmost layer along a perpendicular grid, however, Schwitters imposed a sense of order on the material cacophony. The objects were pasted and hammered onto what appears to be an earlier oil painting, its moody greens and blues still partly visible. The reworking testifies to a conceptual shift: from the work of art as picture to the work of art as surface for the accumulation of matter. This move, from an optical model of art-making to a tactile one, was revolutionary.

The term Merz was Schwitters’s invention. Partly derived from the German word Kommerz (commerce), it designated his collage process. In his Hannover home, which he called the Merzbau (Merz-building), the idea became architectural: it is an abstract, walk-in collage environment, a repository for memory and matter.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Medium
Cut-and-pasted colored and printed paper, cloth, wood, metal, cork, oil, pencil, and ink on board
Dimensions
36 1/8 x 27 3/4" (91.8 x 70.5 cm)
Credit
Mr. and Mrs. A. Atwater Kent, Jr. Fund
Object number
27.1954
Copyright
© 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Department
Drawings and Prints

Installation views

MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Hjalmar Gabrielson, Göteborg, Sweden. Purchased from Schwitters, by 1922 [1923]

Brita (Gretzer) Holmquist, New York. Inherited from her grandfather, Hjalmar Gabrielson

The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Mrs. Brita Holmquist, 1954

Provenance research is a work in progress, and is frequently updated with new information. If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please email provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.