Daniel Spoerri. Coincidence As Master


The exhibition is comprised of ca. 150 exhibits, presenting Daniel Spoerri’s oeuvre from 1960 to 2001. Important works from the cycles "Investigations into Murders", "Artist Palettes", "Seville Series", "Anatomical Cabinets", "Carnival of the Animals", "L’Histoire des boîtes à lettres" ("History of the Letter Boxes") and "Background Landscapes" have been selected for this exhibition.

Daniel Spoerri: Dancer, poet, director, and object artist, founding member of the New Realists, originator of Eat Art.

“A glance into his biography: Daniel Spoerri was born as Daniel Isaak Feinstein on 27 March 1930 in Galati, Romania. His father, Isaac Feinstein, had converted to the Christian faith, and moreover, he had become a missionary for the Norwegian Mission for an Evangelical-Lutheran congregation in Israel. This, however, did not help him in the summer of 1941 when Romania entered World War II on the side of Nazi-Germany: unable to escape the persecution of the Jews, which in Romania was just as brutal as elsewhere, he was dragged off and murdered. Strangely enough the news of his death, recorded by witnesses, provided an opportunity for the family. Daniel’s mother, Lydia, née Spoerri, was a Swiss citizen. As a widow, she was able to apply for a passport for herself and her six children – a chance that had been denied her as the wife of a persecuted spouse. After numerous detours and inconceivable adventures she managed to escape to Switzerland, where she and her children were registered under her maiden name. At the time Daniel was just 12 years old.

This primal experience molded him for his entire life. Daniel Spoerri has always led a nomadic existence. Staying nowhere for long, he returns again and again to the metropolises – Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Berlin, Vienna – only to hit the road again. He arranges accommodation in the country, in France, in Switzerland, in Italy, extends them but does not put down roots, remaining a city dweller. He spends one and half years on Symi, a lonely Greek island, afterwards diving ever more intensely into the art world, founding a restaurant, operating a publishing house, accepting a professorship – only to abandon it all later. This nomadic life helps explain what objects meant to him. His relationship to objects became a determining component of his existence. Objects were often representative of a human fate. He could hold on to them, trust them. Were they not more consistent and trustworthy than human beings? And moreover: the objects tell us our own story, and we recognize ourselves anew in them…”

(Wieland Schmied, 1998)

The transformation of the objects determines Daniel Spoerri’s entire artistic oeuvre. Through a simple intervention, for instance, a tilting from the horizontal into the vertical position, Spoerri alters the planes of perception and reality. The metamorphoses of his own personality also form an important means of expression in the artistic process. For instance, he appears as a master of the art of cooking, serving his audience Eat Art: edible works by Spoerri and his artist friends Bernhard Luginbühl, Dieter Roth, Arman, César, and Niki de Saint-Phalle are consumed on the occasion of artistically staged banquets.

In 1960, his first Tableaux Piège (Trap Pictures) appeared. It was his friendship with Jean Tinguely and an experience in Copenhagen with Robert Filliou that led Spoerri to the invention of the genre of Tableaux Piège. He exhibited the remains of a last supper spent with Filliou in Copenhagen in a form of homage. He fixed the found objects, the plates left behind after dinner, with the remains of food, silverware, cigarette butts and personal items forgotten there, and then mounted them at an angle of 90°. This signified the realisation of the Trap-Pictures along the lines of Fluxus-happening.

Purchases of his works by international museums and international retrospectives assert Daniel Spoerri’s position as the central figure of European post-war art. Since 1998 the artist lives in Seggiano, Italy, working on the Gesamtkunstwerk "Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri".