Merzzeichnung: Typology and Typography

Kurt Schwitters
Aphorism 1923

When Kurt Schwitters began making collages in 1918, the initial term he used to describe them was Merzzeichnungen (Merz drawings). This article considers the place of drawing in the development of Schwitters’s Merz practice and argues that the close connection he made between drawings and collages was not merely because of their common status as works on paper. By analogizing collage and drawing, Schwitters gave new priority to the latter but not as immediate access to the artist’s thought. Rather, drawing was a medium that could meld together elements of painting, printmaking and writing, disrupting conventional artistic categories and demanding a greater role for the viewer in creative interpretation.

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