When is a Dadaist not Dada enough? In spite of having produced several Dada drawings and prints, Kurt Schwitters was officially rejected in 1919 by Tristan Tzara and his merry band of Zurich Dadaists for being too bourgeois. The exhibition “Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage” shows that, while the German artist may have incorporated elements of both Dadaism and Surrealism, the truest description of his style is another nonsense word, one he coined himself: “Merz.”

“Color and Collage,” which originated at Houston’s Menil Collection where I saw it and was also on view at Princeton University last spring, is not a comprehensive survey, but a rich examination of Schwitters’s abstract collages, assemblages, and sculptures. A highlight of the exhibition is a recreation of the Merzbau, a room-sized...


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