of three lost Kurt Schwitters sculptures
commissioned by Ernst Schwitters
Late in the year 1982, well before the completion of the reconstructed MERZ Building, Ernst Schwitters, the son of Kurt Schwitters, approached Peter Bissegger to ask if he could reconstruct for him some of the artist's sculptures that had been lost or destroyed during the Second World War.
Like the MERZ Building, these sculptures were in his opinion of the greatest importance within his father's complete oeuvre; he, Ernst, possessed some very good photographs of them, some of which he had taken himself.
Ernst Schwitters possessed slides and negatives of altogether about nine different sculptures.
Of these, three looked particularly worth reconstructing, both because of their extraordinary beauty and because of their importance to his work (the Molde figure is the largest sculpture Schwitters made):
The "Vogelschiff" (Bird Ship)
The "Liegende" (Reclining Figure)
The "grosse MERZsäule" (Large MERZ Column)
As had already been the case with the MERZ Building, both the optical quality of the photographs and a knowledge of the photographic situation were the "conditio sine qua non" for an absolutely precise reconstruction; anything less would not have done justice to the word.
The precision of the reconstructions can, like that of the MERZ Building, be demonstrated by comparing photographs made today (under the same optical conditions as the originals) with the original shots.
A replica of the "Large MERZ Column" was acquired for the Sprengel Museum Hanover in 1992 by Dr Ronte.
The replicas of the three sculptures, originally planned for Ernst Schwitters himself, were completed for the big Kurt Schwitters retrospective organised by Serge Lemoine;
in 1994 they were exhibited in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and in 1995 in the IVAM, Valencia and the Musée d'Art Moderne, Grenoble.