Kurt Schwitters. Revolving. 1919

Kurt Schwitters



Wood, metal, cord, cardboard, wool, wire, leather, and oil on canvas
48 3/8 x 35" (122.7 x 88.7 cm)
Advisory Committee Fund
Object number
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, in a Collection Gallery, with 15 other works online.
Kurt Schwitters has 95 works online.
There are 1,531 sculptures online.

This work is one of the earliest of the reliefs that Schwitters assembled from found elements, forming lines and shapes by tacking cord, hoops, wire mesh, and small objects to the canvas instead of painting or drawing on it. Schwitters’s use of worn, often broken things reflects a society shattered by World War I. “Out of parsimony I took whatever I found . . . because we were now an impoverished country,” he wrote in 1919. “New things had to be made out of fragments.” In using materials drawn from the real world, Schwitters also took a stand against painterly illusion. He insisted that everything in his reliefs be “perceptible to the eye,” a position reflecting both a postwar impatience with false symbolism and hypocrisy and his understanding of the expressive capacity of abstraction: “Any desire to reproduce natural forms,” he argued, “limits the force and consistency of working out an expression.”

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Kurt Schwitters, Hannover, Germany, then England. 1919 – 1948
Ernst Schwitters (the artist’s son), Lysaker near Oslo, Norway. Inherited from the artist, 1948 – 1962
Marlborough Fine Art, London. Purchased from Ernst Schwitters, 1962 – 1968
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York. 1968
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased from Marlborough-Gerson, New York, 1968

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

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

Licensing of MoMA images and videos is handled by Art Resource (North America) and Scala Archives (all other geographic locations). All requests should be addressed directly to those agencies, which supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@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.