Merzbild mit Regenbogen (Merz Picture With Rainbow) Artist: Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887–1948)


Modern and Contemporary Art

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

Merzbild mit Regenbogen (Merz Picture with Rainbow) was begun in Germany in 1920 but finished while Kurt Schwitters was exiled in Norway. The work consists of assembled pieces of found and prefabricated materials that Schwitters arranged on a flat surface. The artist introduced fake shadows to create a trompe l’oeil effect, as with the painted shadow of the broken wheel. The colors in the background, as well as the rainbow, seem to be a reference to the natural or rural environment that Schwitters experienced in Norway; the gray-green and cool blue in particular evoke glaciers, mountains, and forests. Schwitters saw an inherent link between the laws of nature and abstraction, and thus he did not consider his landscape painting to be opposed to his abstract works. His new surroundings inspired a tangible interest in organic forms and natural materials, as well as a relaxation of the strict geometric structures that mark his earlier works.


Mixed media on plywood


61 5/8 × 47 3/4 × 10 1/2 in. (156.528 × 121.285 × 26.67 cm)

Credit Line

Charles B. Benenson, B.A. 1933, Collection

Accession Number



20th century


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 records is ongoing.

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Karin Orchard, ed., Schwitters in Norway, exh. cat. (Hovikodden, Norway: Henie Onstad Art Centre, Hovikodden, Norway, 2009), 67, ill
  • Connie Smith Siegel, Spirit of Color (New York: Watson-Guptill, 2008),
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 255, 402, pl. 242
  • "Acquisitions, July 1, 2006–June 30, 2007," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007), 240
  • William Rubin, Dada, Surrealism, and Their Heritage, exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1968), ill
  • Werner Schmalenbach, Kurt Schwitters: Retrospective, exh. cat. (New York: Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, 1965), 10, no. 148, ill
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