Daniel Spoerri describes Daniel Spoerri

Daniel Spoerri is 84 years old and is one of the most important artists of the Twentieth Century.  He was a dancer, choreographer, set designer, director of theater and cinema, author, publisher, teacher, restaurateur and art collector. Stateless by choice, he lived in Switzerland, Germany, France, Greece, Italy and United States. Artrust proposes a study starting from his interviews on Spoerri as a human and as character.

Oral testimonies

One of the most significant aspect of living artists, is the possibility that they have to tell about themselves and their art without the filter of a mediator (a biographer, a critic or whoever it). Daniel Spoerri, dean of the Nouveau Réalism, is an active artist and one of the last exponents of the twentieth century who is still alive. In his released interviews, Spoerri said aloud what he achieved during his career and narrated about the cultural world of which he was a witness. Here there are some of his more significant quotes collected:

Youth and Noveau Réalisme

« When I was young, I wanted to write poems. Poetry was the first way of self-expressing, then came dance, then objects. Never painting, I have never painted ».

« It was the critic Pierre Restany who chose the name ‘Nouveau Réalism’. At that time, everything had to be “new” as the nouveau roman, the nouvelle vague and the nouvelle cuisine. Paul Eluard gave the best description of what I and Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Arman, Christo and François Dufrêne did, in his essay ‘Donner à voir’: we simply took things and we showed them. Moreover, the term New Realism seemed a bit silly to me, I tried to say it, but it did not help, I was young and I had to be happy to be part of the group».

«Do you see this scissors? Tinguely would have used a small engine to get them to work alone; Arman would have accumulated hundreds of them to demonstrate how the quantity becomes quality; César would have taken a thousand of them, compressing everything into a cube; Yves Klein would have painted them in blue; Christo would have packed them, and I would have created one square meter of land and showing them in their natural context. This was the New Realism».

“I have a lot of nostalgia of the years of Nouveau Réalism. It is the hardest thing when a certain age friends disappear. I think of Jean Tinguely and everyone else … There’s nobody. I miss them all very much. I miss the positive and fruitful dialogue, the exchange of ideas, beyond being agreed. “

Art and food

“I decided to become an artist not because I had the gift of being good at drawing or sculpting, but because I could not do anything else. It was a matter of survival. I could either kill myself or live that way. ”

“I come from a personal experience in which I had no money for a phone calling and kept for weeks a piece of dry bread in a box, consuming it little by little with poor soups.”

“When I had the money, I immediately associated art to food. Before the banquet comes food, then the kitchen, the restaurant and then the ‘Eat Art’.

Stateless Spoerri 

“With Romania, where I was born, I no longer have any emotional relationship, or better I have it, but negative: we had to run away during the war, my father was a Jewish missionary converted to Lutheranism, a very strict man and a father who was killed in a pogrom.”

“In Switzerland I always felt like a stranger: in the house of my maternal uncle, who had welcomed us, in Zurich, at the school where I did not understand Swiss German, and despite the fact that then all my wives were Swiss and many of my friends have a Swiss passport”.

«Everyone has something that drives them through life. Being without a native land is the engine of my own».

Artistic vision

“I have always been sure, just like a research scientist, which I wanted to find out something: I was looking for something, the rest didn’t interest me. I didn’t want to be famous, I sought answers to my restlessness, my insecurity, my issues and questions that I ask to life. “

«Probably art is consolation. I think it’s like that for every artist. When I’m feeling down, I sit down and work, and a good mood. “».

«I had to wait decades before someone said “Oh, that’s beautiful!”. When I started, everyone said “Horrible! Who would put such a thing on the wall?”».

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