In the months following World War I, Schwitters began making art from detritus and material found in the streets. In carefully composed collages of discarded papers, often from printed matter, he sought poetry in the leftovers of modern life. He used the term Merz to describe his works, from the German Kommerz (commerce) partly visible on a piece of paper in one of his first assemblages. To signal the artistic nature of his enterprise, Schwitters framed his collages with a mat and gave them a title and an opus number. The name Alma Gassert appears on a telegram included in this collage.
Mz 309 Alma Gassert
Collage of cut and torn printed and colored papers, cut fabric, with graphite, pen and black ink, and black fabricated chalk on blue paper adhered to original paperboard window mat.
9 5/8 x 7 5/8 inches (244 x 195 mm)
Inscribed in black ink on mat, at lower left, Mz 309 / Alma Gassert, and at lower right, K. Schwitters. 1921. / B; inscribed in graphite, on the back, Mz 309.
Marcel Polak, Amsterdam, 1948; Galerie Berggruen, Paris, before 1952 (purchase); Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1952-1957 (purchase); Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Chicago, 1957-1969 (purchase); Georgia Mies van der Rohe, New York and Berlin (bequest); David Lachenmann, Munich; Eugene V. and Clare Thaw, New York and Santa Fe.