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Kurt Schwitters, Ohne Titel (Standrad mit Holz) (Untitled [Standard with Wood]), 1947, mixed media, 10 × 6 3⁄4".

Kurt Schwitters, Ohne Titel (Standrad mit Holz) (Untitled [Standard with Wood]), 1947, mixed media, 10 × 6 3⁄4".

Kurt Schwitters

Nahmad Contemporary

Kurt Schwitters (1887–1948) is renowned for his Merz collages and constructions, titled after an advertisement for Commerzbank he once cut up, dispensing with the German institution’s com and bank, and leaving only the nonsensical merz, which has an odd resonance with schmutz, or dirt. This is fitting, of course, for an artist who was a master of appropriating cultural schmutz—including, in his own words, “tram tickets, bits of driftwood, buttons, and old junk”—for his work.

At Nahmad Contemporary, twenty-two of Schwitters’s collages, made between 1920 and 1947, were on display. Among them, Ohne Titel (Standrad mit Holz) (Untitled [Standard with Wood]), 1947, was a fine example of how his art stands uneasily on the border between Cubism and Dadaism, in an ironic and dialectical class of its own. The piece is a shallow relief composed from a dégradé piece of perforated timber tacked at an

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