Schwitters’ art underwent a radical change around 1917-18 as he moved from painting traditional landscapes and figures to making collages. Spurred on by the First World War, he saw this as a rebellion against the old order. This is one of Schwitters’ ‘Merz’ pictures, in which the artist uses a range of different materials to create a collage. From tickets and newspapers to fabric and playing cards, anything flat enough to be stuck down was used. The ‘red on top’ specified in the title of the collage refers to the small red triangular patch in the top left corner - some of the papers have faded in colour. This is one of the first works Schwitters ever sold. It was purchased by the poet Paul Eluard in 1921 and later belonged to the Surrealist artist and collector Roland Penrose.