Modern and Contemporary Art
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Artist: Kurt Schwitters, German, active in Norway and England, 1887–1948

Merzbild mit Regenbogen (Merz Picture With Rainbow)


Mixed media on plywood

156.528 x 121.285 x 26.67 cm (61 5/8 x 47 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.)
Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Kurt Schwitters coined the term Merz in 1919 to describe his assemblages of urban debris and everyday materials. He derived the title of his invention from the German word for commerce, kommerz. In Merzbild mit Regenbogen, raw wood and a wheel spoke project from a canvas painted with a rainbow, embodying Schwitters’s belief in the artistic viability of both materials designed to be of aesthetic interest and those that are not. He created deliberate confusion between painted shadows and those cast by three-dimensional objects, prompting viewers to question boundaries between the illusionistic and the real.

20th century
On view

Werner Schmalenbach, Kurt Schwitters: Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, 1965), 10, no. 148, ill.

William Rubin, Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1968), ill.

“Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 240.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 255, 402, pl. 242.

Connie Smith Siegel, Spirit of Color (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2008).

Karin Orchard, ed., Schwitters in Norway, exh. cat. (Hovikodden, Norway: Henie Onstad Art Centre, Hovikodden, Norway, 2009), 67, ill.

Cathleen Chaffee, Eye on a Century: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Charles B. Benenson Collection at the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2012), 46–49, 175, no. 13.

Sequoia Miller and John Stuart Gordon, The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art: Selections from the Linda Leonard Schlenger Collection and the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2015–16), 19, fig. 13.

Frauke V. Josenhans et al., Artists in Exile: Expressions of Loss and Hope (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2017), 143, no. 16, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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