According to Schwitters, his collage-based art form called Merz “denotes essentially the combination of all conceivable materials for artistic purposes.” Merz fused found materials—from paper scraps to fragments of overheard conversations—into art forms ranging from poetry to assemblage. Between 1923 and 1932, Schwitters sporadically published twenty–two issues of Merz; the third issue comprises a portfolio of six unbound lithographs. The grids of squares and rectangles that appear in various scales, shades, and patterns throughout these prints are layered with colorful fragments from advertisements and children’s books—additions that reflect the fragmented social, political, and economic realities of postwar Germany. The prints are detailed with large capital letters, human and doll-like figures, and a duplicated kitten. This layering of commercial ephemera, hand-drawn imagery, and collage demonstrates how Schwitters applied chance and improvisation to his printmaking process and exposes the additive nature of printmaking.
Gallery label from There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33”, October 12, 2013–June 22, 2014.