Kurt Schwitters abandoned his Merz pictures to a large extent during the mid- to late 1920s to concentrate on paintings, constructions, and reliefs in which the influence of Russian Constructivism and the work of his friend Theo van Doesburg is discernable. He eliminated found materials from these compositions and thereby reduced the Dada element of chance they contributed in order to achieve a less idiosyncratic and hence more universal form of expression. This development accorded with his belief in the ascendancy of formal values, which he felt should not be jeopardized by references to anything outside the work of art.
When Schwitters returned to the Merz idiom in 1930, he placed more emphasis on the act of painting than he had in his early collages. Though the planes are shaped with the impersonality of geometric contour, they are animated by the variation of rhythmic brushstrokes and the addition of collaged forms. In the tradition of his Merz works of the classic period of 1919 to the mid-1920s, the objects he adopted were disposable articles—the top of a corroded tin can and a metal butterfly; the picture once included a broken piece of china to the right of the tin circle and two wooden balls below the butterfly. While the objects function as abstract elements within the flat confines of the support, their projection contradicts the two-dimensionality of the picture plane and implies an extension of the work of art into the observer’s world.