Daniel Spoerri | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books


"I only put a little glue on objects; I do not allow myself any creativit."

(Daniel Spoerri)



Daniel Spoerri, born Daniel Feinstein (Galaţi, 27 March 1930), is a Romanian national naturalist painter and choreographer.

He was born in Romania, from Isaac Feinstein, a missionary of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and from Lydia Feinstein-Spoerri, from whose girl's name he will derive his own name.

During the war, in 1942, his father was slain by the Nazis in Romania and the family was forced to take refuge in Switzerland, in Zurich, where little Daniel lives with his maternal uncle, Theophil Spoerri, rector of the University of Zurich.

In the Swiss city he began to study dance in 1949 at the Zürcher Theatertanzschule. In Zurich he met with André Thomkins, Serge Stauffer, expert and translator of Marcel Duchamp. In the same year he met and became friends with Jean Tinguely and Eva Aeppli.

Between 1952 and 1954 he attended classical dance classes in Paris and between 1954 and 1957 he was danseur-étoile at the Berner Stadttheater. He then became friends with Dieter Roth, Bernhard Luginbühl, Claus Bremer, André Thomkins and Meret Oppenheim. In these years he works as a tour guide.

In the meantime he started the activity of choreographer (Ballet en couleurs - 1955), of poet, with the series of concrete poems and director. As a director in Bern, he staged Picasso's desire for the tail, in 1956, and the first ever in German, by the ballad singer of Ionesco and La sonata and the three lords of Jean Tardieu.

Between 1957 and 1959 he was an assistant director at the Darmstadt Theater and continued his activity as a real poet, while he met and collaborated with Emmett Williams.

After moving to Paris in 1959, he came into contact with many artists working in the city, including Pol Bury, Jesús Rafael Soto, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Robert Filliou.

Also in Paris, he founded the publishing house MAT (Multiplication d'art transformable) and began his work as a figurative artist: he invented the tableaux-pièges (Quadri-trappola), gluing the daily objects piled up in his hotel room onto tables ( room 13 of the Hôtel Carcassonne, at Rue Mouffetard), which acquire an unusual presence in the transition from horizontal to vertical. In 1960 he elaborated, with others, the Manifesto of Nouveau Réalisme. In this regard, he declares:

"I only put a little glue on objects; I do not allow myself any creativity [1] »

His first individual exhibition in 1961 took place in Milan, curated by Arturo Schwarz.

The following year, 1962, is marked by the publication of Topographie anecdotée du hasard, as part of an exhibition at the Galerie Lawrence in Paris. This is the meticulous description of objects on the table of his room and evocation of what they suggest. It continues in this search for the transformation of the real with its Détrompe-l'œil, of 1963, in which everyday objects upset and question the image to which they are connected: for example in La Douche it fixes a room taps for bathroom on a painting representing a mountain stream. He now undertakes another line of research, which will lead him to Eat Art: he collects meals at the Galerie J. With Robert Filliou, he proposes in 1964 the Pièges in words, visual montages that materialize clichés and phrases. In the same year he lives in New York and makes contact with the artists of the Fluxus group.

After spending two years on the Greek island of Symi (in the Aegean), the Spoerri restaurant (June 18, 1968) opens in Düsseldorf, where he serves food prepared by himself. In 1970, in the rooms above the restaurant, the Eat Art Galerie, which is also the publisher of numerous publications of his and other artists. He also began to practice sculpture: the first work (a bronze) is called Santo Grappa. Other forms of art derived from the restaurant are the paintings made by gluing dirty remains and dishes on the table, as customers have left them, collections of cooking recipes and extravagant culinary rituals that become performances.

Evolution of Eat Art is, in the early seventies, the creation of still lifes. The works of previous years are on show in two retrospectives of the years 1971-1972, in Amsterdam, in Zurich and in Paris (Center national d'art contemporain). In 1978 he was invited to teach in the "Fachhochschule für Kunst und Gestaltung" in Cologne.

The sculpture commits him in the eighties, starting with the exhibition entirely dedicated to Eat Art: "Eat Art Festival", at the Maison de la Culture in Chalon-sur-Saône. Begins to assemble tools for a hatter, orthopedic and butcher's equipment in the form of parody idols, some of which are then cast in bronze. It is the phase that he defines as "ethnosyncretistic objects", which bring together primitive masks, flea market objects and Western religious symbols, to deride every faith and every artistic convention. In 1983 he was appointed Professor of Art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Brest and professor at the Kunstakademie in Munich, where he organized a series of lectures entitled "Spoerri presents ..." to which he invites Christo, L. Fischer, K. Gerstner, B. Luginbühl, H. Nitsch, F. Schwegler, O. Wiener, J. Tinguely, R. Topor. His academic career continued and in 1987 he was a professor outside the "Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst" in Vienna, but in 1989 he left the chair of Monaco to devote himself completely to his creativity.

Since 1989 he frequently lives in Italy, first in Arcidosso and then in Seggiano (in the province of Grosseto), where he begins to build a park-museum where he collects his own works and his artist friends. This is how the Garden of Daniel Spoerri was born, since 1997 under the auspices of the Foundation «Hic terminus haeret - The Garden of Daniel Spoerri». The artist leaves Paris to live permanently in the Tuscan country. In 2005 he received honorary citizenship from the municipality of Seggiano.

Still in the context of the Eat Art, in 1992 the conception of the restaurant that constitutes the center of the Swiss Pavilion at the Universal Exposition of Seville is located.

In 1993 France gave him the "Grand Prix National de la Sculpture".

In 1972, the National Center for Contemporary Art in Paris dedicated a retrospective to him. In 1990 the Center Georges Pompidou organized the first retrospective exhibition in Paris, after the one in 1972, in honor of the artist's 30-year career: Daniel Spoerri - Retrospective. For the exhibition, 150 works are selected; after the French capital, the exhibition was brought to other important European cities, specifically in Antibes, Munich, Vienna, Geneva and Solothurn. 1991 is the year in which the Corps en morceaux exhibition is organized at the Raab Gallery in Berlin.

In 2007 he began to create the first Faux Tableaux-piège (False Pictures-trap), tables specially designed in their composition, unlike Tableaux-pièges whose objects are arranged in a purely random order. The Faux Tableaux-piège creations are made ad hoc, which draw inspiration from certain people and are dedicated to them.

The following year, 2008, he was awarded the Ambrogino d'oro award, an honor for cultural merit of the city of Milan. Also in the same year he received in Germany also the culinary award Eckhart Witzigmann Preis, recognized for his merits with the Eat Art.

The exhibition Autour du Nouveau Réalisme dates back to 2017. Daniel Spoerri - Les dadas des deux Daniel, at Les Abattoirs [broken link] of Toulouse. The Daniel Spoerri exhibition takes place at the Berlin WeGallery. "Nil mors est ad nos": oder der Tod betriff uns nicht. In October the Boxart gallery in Verona inaugurates a personal exhibition of D.S. entitled Riordinare il mondo of which Marco Bazzini is its curator. On the evening of the inauguration, a Palindromo Banquet is organized at the Palazzo dei Mutilati in Verona.