Once upon a time there was a painter-chap who painted his paintings in the air – not plain flat figures with flat paintbrushes on flat canvas, which were painted so flat that they looked really flat and plain – but he painted round figures round in the air.
So he painted a queen. She had an enormous velvet skirt on her legs, and a crown on her head, and a shock of hair under the crown, which looked like a cake, so beautifully was it done. And her graceful arms with slim fingers and the big brilliant rings on her fingers moved, as the fingers of a queen used to move.
Then the wind came and blew Her Majesty the Queen away, and the painter observed this display with anxious eyes. The queen wobbled and bubbled in the air., and swayed and waved just as the air under her waved and swayed. Suddenly she grew quite thick round the middle, blew herself up, burst, and fell in two pieces. The skirt with the legs by itself, and the bosom with the crown by themselves. When the painter-chap saw this, he got very serious, and painted, in a great hurry, a page-boy in the air. Not a plain flat page-boy with flat paintbrush on flat canvas who was painted so flat that he looked really flat and plain, but he painted a round page-boy round in the air. He had a tightly fitting dress on his legs, and big longing eyes under his page-crop, and his fingers were as graceful matches.
Then the wind came and blew the page-boy in the direction of the queen who had burst. He trembled and scrambled in the air, and he shivered and schwittered, like the air under him schwittered and shivered. And his eyes and fingers were longing to put the queen in order again. Therefore, he kicked his little legs in the air so that he might get ahead a bit more quickly, and he slipped several times and fell, for it was cold, and the air was slippery with ice.
Suddenly, as he reached the parted parts of the departing queen, he grew thick round the middle, blew himself up, burst, and fell in two pieces.
The tightly fitting dress with legs by itself, and the longing eyes with the fingers by themselves, for he was quite near his beloved queen.
Now, his legs and his fingers had still kept the direction of the fast chase. And thus his legs put themselves under the fat bosom of the queen, and the longing eyes with the match fingers put themselves on top of her enormous skirt, and they grew on there.
But it looked so horrible that the painter, full of fright, decided to paint himself in the air in order to rearrange them in the right order; for his brush was not long enough.
He did not paint himself plainly flat with a flat brush on flat canvas like the other painters who used to paint plain, flat figures – as you already know – on flat canvases, which were painted so flat that they really looked flat and plain, but he painted himself with his round brush round in the air. Then the wind came and blew him in the direction of the two figures. He kicked his legs in the air as much as he could, because he wanted to get to the place of the accident quickly; he slipped several times and fell, because nobody had strewn ashes on the air.
Suddenly as he reached the two figures, he grew quite round in the middle, blew himself up, and burst not in two pieces, but in so many small parts that he could no longer be seen, and with him burst the ability of the painters to paint round figures round in the air with round brushes.
Therefore, painters now paint plain, flat figures with flat brushes on flat canvas.
– Kurt Schwitters, 1941