Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daniel Spoerri

Artist Daniel Spoerri turns 82 today. Best known for his 'snare paintings' (or 'trap pictures') - which secured the remnants of a meal onto a table and were then hung as paintings - Spoerri also produced many classic multiples and bookworks, as both artist and publisher. He was an active participant in the Fluxus and Nouveau réalisme 'movements'. In 1959 he founded Editions MAT ("Multiplication d'art Transformable"), producing multiples by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Dieter Roth, Jean Tinguely, Victor Vasarely and many others. Spoerri is often credited with coining the term "multiples".

His artist book The Anecdoted Topography of Chance is considered a classic of the genre, and has been reprinted several times. The Something Else Press edition will be looked at in detail in a future post (as will his other Something Else Press title, The Mythological Travels... of a Modern Sir John Mandeville). At one point the Wikipedia entry for The Anecdoted Topography of Chance claimed it was a precursor and inspiration for the site, noting that the text is anecdoted and annotated by multiple authors. This always seemed a bit spurious to me (akin to Al Gore's supposed claim that he invented the web) and I note that the entry has now been removed, and a shorter version (minus the claim) is folded into the artist's bio page.

Much of his practice involves food, generally the debris of a meal itself, but he also used actual perishable food in many of his works. In 1968 he opened Restaurant Spoerri and two years later the Eat Art Gallery was added, adjacent to the space. Buyers could request a particular meal from the restaurant to be fixed and mounted as an artwork. Additionally, the gallery showed the work of other artists, including Joseph Beuys, Richard Linder, Roy Lichtenstein and others. Most of the works involved edible materials or food wastes. Eat Art anticipated numerous artist restaurants (Gordon Matta-Clark, N.E.Thing. Co., Allen Ruppersberg, Damien Hirst) as well as the 'relational aesthetics' of Rikrit Tiravanija.

Spoerri was born in Galatji, Romania to a Romanian father and Swiss mother. His father was arrested and killed by the Nazis when he was 11 years old. The following year, 1942, his mother emigrated with her family of 6 to Switzerland. The artist has lived in a number of different cities, including Basel, Berlin, Bern, Dusseldorf, Munich, New York, San Francisco, Symi, Toggwil, and Vienna. In 1997 he moved to the Tuscan town of Seggiano, where he opened a sculpture garden called Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri.

Cologne, Germany: Edition MAT/Galerie Der Spiegel, 1965
50 x 50 x 8 cm
Bread, wood, plexi
Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies.

Achtung Kunstwerk
Remscheid, Germany: VICE-Versand, 1968
12 x 8 cm
Perishable rolled herrings in a glass
Unlimited edition, signed.

Art Rat Trap Flag
Berlin, Germany: Gallery Andre, 1973
115 x 70 x 12 cm
Wood, copper
Edition of 30 signed and numbered copies

Daniel Spoerri, Vera Spoerri, Roland Topor, and Robert Filliou
Monsters are Inoffensive
New York City, USA: Fluxus / Implosions, 1967.
16 x 11 cm
22 loose cards in an envelope. Individual titles include:
Men are Stupid Asses, Filliou Wears Glasses, Men are Blind to the own Follies, Men art Maneaters, Men Call Pubic Hair Pornography, Men Will Talk Nonsense about a Third Eye, The Fatter the Men Get, the Sillier They Are.

Complete sets are hard to come by, but individual cards are available here, for $20 each.

Several other works by Spoerri can be purchased here.

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