The term “Merz” was originated in 1919 by Kurt Schwitters, who was living in Germany at the end of World War 1.
For Schwitters, the revolution served as an inspiration to create a new form of art, which in his mind reflected the changes that were happening all around him: “Everything had broken down…new things had to be made from fragments.”
In the winter of 1918-19, he started to create collages and assemblages from an assortment of refuse and found materials — “new art forms out of the remains of a former culture.”
“I call my new manner of working from the principle of using any material MERZ. That is the second syllable of Kommerz [commerce]. It originated from the Merzbild [Merzpicture], a picture in which the Word MERZ, cut out and glued-on from an advertisement for the KOMMERZ-UND PRIVATBANK [Commercial and Private Bank] could be read between abstract forms…When I first exhibited these pasted and nailed pictures at the Sturm Gallery in Berlin, I searched for a generic term for this new kind of picture, because I could not define them with older concepts like Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism or whatever. So I named all my pictures as a species MERZbilder after the most characteristic one.”