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Hindenburg-Merzzeichnung, 157

Not on view

Hindenburg-Merzzeichnung, 157

Artist: Kurt Schwitters (German, 1887 - 1948)

Date: 1920
Medium: Mixed media collage
Overall: 7 1/4 x 6in. (18.4 x 15.2cm)
Signed: Lower right: 'Kurt Schwitters.1920'
Inscribed: Lower left: 'WZ 157 / Hindenburg'
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 52.53
Label Text
Schwitters gave the term Mz (Merzzeichnung or Merz drawing) to his type of Dada collages, explaining Merz to be about the relationship between the artist and the material used: "The artist creates by choosing, dividing, and de-forming the materials. Materials can be de-formed by their mere distribution onto the picture surface."

Although Hindenburg-Merzzeichnung 157 is a tiny work, its interpretations are rich, given the amount of visual fodder Schwitters includes:

There are allusions to Germany's financial problems after World War I

The word HINDENBURG, coming most likely from a newspaper announcement, alludes to General Paul von Hindenburg, who was hailed as a war hero and lived in Hanover, as did Schwitters. Hindenburg propagated the "stab in the back" legend, which claims that the war was not lost in the trenches by the military, but by the "enemies" at home.

On the bottom right of the collage is an image of a woman's legs, foregrounding the role images of women played in advertising. At the time, Schwitters was unusual for questioning conventional ideals of woman as mother, housekeeper, etc., through the juxtaposition of various fragmentary images: "I see deconstruction as a useful tool to erode the artificial construct of oppositional absolutes as the basis for gender relations."

It is also possible to read the diverse scraps of paper as a whole, reflecting the intertexuality of modern urban living.

Curt Germundson

© ARS, New York, NY / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn