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“Trap pictures” and more: Kunstforum shows Daniel Spoerri

On Saturday (March 27), the Swiss object artist Daniel Spoerri, who lives in Vienna, will celebrate his 91st birthday. As early as Wednesday, the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien will be showing the largest retrospective of his rich oeuvre since the 20er Haus exhibition in 1990. “Over 100 key works by Daniel Spoerri from 43 public and private international collections” has been compiled by curator Veronika Rudorfer in a two-year preparation period.

Spoerri, who has lived in Vienna since 2007 and made his own preview yesterday in a good mood, was conceptually included from the start, said Rudorfer in an interview with the APA: “It was a very nice collaboration.” The result is a show in which a round-up in the columned hall (“an index of topics and media from almost 70 years of artistic work”) leads in loose chronology through the versatile work of the universal artist – from his initial experiments with concrete Poetry and the co-founding of the “Nouveau Realisme” up to the creation of the magical “Giardino di Daniel Spoerri” in Tuscany, to which the last room is dedicated. In between, the table is literally richly set: with his “trap pictures”, the transformation of the remains of culinary gatherings into artistic objects, he wrote art history. In his Eat-Art the term panel painting has got a new meaning.

Not only tilting the dining tables, which are usually heavily loaded with plates, bottles, glasses and cutlery, from horizontal to vertical, but also preserving the other artefacts is “a restoration challenge,” admits the curator with a smile. Holding on to leftover bread, cigarette ash and goulash juice for eternity is probably a task for tinkerers with good stomachs. But the magic that the “Tableaus pièges” unfold in the context of art is still difficult to evade today.

Of course, the exhibition also shows the diverse interests of the trained ballet dancer and pantomime who was born in Galati, Romania, in 1930. “I’m not a specialist in the sense of anything. I only do what I think I have to do from day to day,” said Spoerri in an APA interview in 2019 on the occasion of the portrait film “This film is a gift” by Viennese filmmaker Anja Salomonowitz. “He has his red threads, which he continues to weave over the years,” says Veronika Rudorfer.

It shows Spoerri’s “Cinnamon Magic Preserves” made on the Greek island of Symi, made from leftovers and rubbish, which are turned into fetish-like objects, as well as his short film “Resurrection” (1968), which moves backwards from human feces over the bloody plate, the frying pan Butcher to the cow in the pasture and the final cow dung. Spoerri’s “Collections”, in which peelers or noodle wheels are arranged in large assemblages, can be seen as well as his “threadbare oracles”, wall embroidery newly assembled into subversive fabric-word works of art.

“Isn’t art an indication of the way in which one sees the world, always new, and different in each time?” Asks Daniel Spoerri. In any case, the exhibition gives a lot of indications that this could be true.

(SERVICE – exhibition “Daniel Spoerri” in the Bank Austria Kunstforum Vienna, March 24th to June 27th, daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Vienna 1, Freyung 8; catalog, published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, 200 pages, German and English in one volume, 32 euros, ISBN 978-3-96098-919-6.

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