15.07.1972 – 20.08.1972
Zerquetscht, verklebt, verwurstet: der Allround-Gestalter Dieter Roth
The traveling exhibition taken over by the Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft for the Zurich Helmhaus after a first stop at the Kunsthalle Basel, brought together artist's books and graphic art by Dieter Roth (1933 Hannover-1998 Basel). The exhibition was accompanied by a publication comprising a total of 223 numbers, edited and introduced by the artist and published by Edition Hansjörg Mayer (Stuttgart). Immodestly and probably not to be taken entirely seriously, this publication also called itself ‘Volume 20 of the collected works’. Dieter Roth, who grew up in Cologne as the son of a German mother and a Swiss father, was sent to Basel as a child during the bombing and completed a four-year graphic design apprenticeship in Bern. As an artist, he remained true to graphic art, which, however, he understood in a broader sense, adding squashed bread, crushed light bulbs, flattened candies or crushed chocolate. Even after his emigration to Iceland in 1957, when book production became increasingly important, he retained this principle: He crafted a book from hundreds of glued Icelandic newspaper pages, and a ‘literary sausage’ from a shredded novel and real butcher's trimmings. Roth thus shows himself to be an artist who constantly defies classification, driven by a never-ending desire for invention and yet always striving for perfection in his craft. The playful - in the foreword to the catalog also the word play - occupies a central place in Dieter Roth's oeuvre. Many of his works ‘are captivating not only as stupendous ideas, but no less through a peculiar and always very personal beauty, which almost always reveals a synthesis - and often a happy synthesis - of playfulness and seriousness.’ (Neue Zürcher Nachrichten). Throughout the volume, the critics embrace the artist: ‘Roth is a clever and knowledgeable entrepreneur in matters of art, a perfect technician and propaganda man,’ writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and adds: ‘Dieter Roth is a typical homo ludens of the most current coinage, a juggler with depth and fantastic ability, who laughs at himself, and yet again a deadly serious implementer of his thousand ideas.’ The critic Hans Neuburg concludes with the following assessment: ‘This exhibition is an unrestrained secret pleasure.’ (Die Tat).
no exhibition catalog online
Even after his emigration to Iceland in 1957, when book production became increasingly important, he retained this principle: He crafted a book from hundreds of glued Icelandic newspaper pages, and a ‘literary sausage’ from a shredded novel and real butcher's trimmings.