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

This highly animated picture is dominated by rectangular pieces of paper that cover the surface of the work. Schwitters created the illusion of depth by placing those papers with darker components behind those that are lighter in aspect. The brightest piece of paper, in the center of the composition, shows an eye-catching cluster of red cherries and the printed German and French words for the fruit.

In the winter of 1918–19 Schwitters had collected bits of newspaper, candy wrappers, and other debris, and began making the collages and assemblages for which he is best known today. The Cherry Picture belongs to a group of these works he called Merz, a nonsensical word that he made up by cutting a scrap from a newspaper: the second syllable of the German word Kommerz, or commerce.

By 1921 Schwitters had been painting seriously for ten years, largely in different naturalistic styles. In doing so, he learned how all art was based on measurement and adjustment and the manipulation of a variable but finite number of pictorial elements. He never forgot these lessons, which form a bridge between his earlier, representational work and the purely formal manipulation of found materials in the Merz pictures.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 115.
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.