Description: [DADA - SCHWITTERS, Kurt (German 1887 - 1948)] - RINSEMA, Thijs (Dutch 1877 - 1947). Merz box/Collage box, (Collagedoosje or Merzplaksel), c. 1923-1927. Wooden box with hinged lid, 11 x 11.2 x 9.4 cm., signed in pencil 'Th. Rinsema' (on the bottom), the wooden box is covered with small pieces of wood in different colours. Good condition, some minor imperfections and contemporary repairs to the veneer. Very good condition.
Artist or Maker: [DADA - SCHWITTERS, Kurt (German 1887 - 1948)] - RINSEMA, Thijs (Dutch 1877 - 1947).
Exhibited: Berlin: Tendenzen der Zwanziger Jahre; Fries Museum, Leeuwarden
Literature: Thijs Rinsema (grandson). Thijs/Evert Rinsema. Eigenzinnig en veelzijdig. Drachten, Museum Dr8888, 2011, p. 127, no. 59
Provenance: Collection Co de Koning; Adriaan Venema; Thom Mercuur; the estate of Thijs Rinsema
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During his visits to Drachten, Friesland, Kurt Schwitters and Rinsema made these boxes from pieces of wood found on the streets. Just like Schwitters had done in Hannover, where he was combing the streets for pieces of paper, paperboard, chicken wire, barbed wire, cork and wood for his Merzbilder. The boxes were commissioned using custom made multiplex boxes covered with coloured pieces of paper. They were manufactured by Evert Visser, the Gerard van de Groenekan of Schwitters and Rinsema and by his pupil R. Harper. Therefore it is hard to tell which artist designed a specific box. But of course Schwitters can be regarded as the originator, as he used the same techniques and materials.
Rinsema was a shoemaker and a painter, just like his brother Evert who introduced him to Theo van Doesburg. He was greatly influenced by De Stijl and Dada, even painting his shop in primary colours. The collaboration with Schwitters started in 1921 en lasted up until Schwitters' flight for the nazis in 1937. In 1923 they organised a Dada-evening in Rinsema's hometown, now considered to be the last Dada-manifestation in Europa. The beauty of the boxes was immediately recognised, because - as Herbert Henkels puts it - the collage boxes brilliantly unite both Rinsema's facilities of expression: composing with lines down and across as well as with variously shaped surfaces. One of the early 'buyers' was Charley Toorop, who offered two works in return because she couldn't afford the purchase. She told Ritsema that her father - Jan Toorop - liked the boxes very much. Eventually they became Rinsema's best selling work. Only very few boxes remain. Hardly ever offered.