Personal Notes: Portrait of Dieter Roth (1930-1998)

Dieter Roth’s work is displayed most prominently in this exhibition, not only because he was one of the most prolific makers of artists’ books, but also because he contributed to countless collaborations with a wide circle of friends in his lifetime. Roth provides the concrete link between concrete poetry and Fluxus, and his art bridges many of the themes and brings together many of the individual artists included in this show. From working on Spirale in Switzerland in the 1950s, through creating his artist’s books in Reykjavík, Stuttgart, Philadelphia and elsewhere in the 1960s, to contributing to unusual poetry workshops in Café Exil in West Berlin in the 1970s, the book was a constant point of reference in Roth’s wide-ranging and endlessly innovative artistic production.

While perhaps best known for the irreverence epitomized in his collections of poems called SCHEISSE, Roth’s books frequently provide a format for conveying personal or intimate aspects of his life, from his struggle with alcoholism and depression, to loneliness and love. His Ein Tagebuch aus dem Jahr 1982 is a complete photocopied reproduction of his diary that year. The “photo-version” of Snow presented here reproduces a unique book he created in 1964, which collects notes, photographs of people, places, and things Roth encountered, and all of the paper items—from drawings to kitchen roll—he touched throughout the course of a day.

Gallery Installation Photograph

Staff photograph

A view of the case installation for the exhibition section Personal Notes:  Portrait of  Dieter Roth.

Copley Book
Dieter Roth (1930-1998), Swiss-German
Chicago: William and Noma Copley Foundation, 1965
Rare Book Collection

Originally, the contents of Copley Book were stapled together through the middle, disabling perusal. Most viewers, however, could not resist the temptation to “open” it.

Dieter Roth (1930-1998), Swiss-German
Stuttgart: Wasserpresse, 1970
Gesammelte Werke, Band 11

Rare Book Collection