Dieter Roth Björn Roth


Curated by Vicente Todolí / 6 November 2013 - 9 February 2014

For the first time in Italy, the exhibition “Islands”—curated by the Artistic Advisor Vicente Todolì—brings together 100 works by Dieter Roth (Hannover, 1930–Basel, 1998), a key figure on the international art scene of the past fifty years. It is being put on with the collaboration of his son Björn. The display is quite unique in the way that the imposing installations interact with the former industrial space of HangarBicocca. An insatiable researcher in many fields of creativity and knowledge, Dieter Roth was a graphic artist, poet, expert in music, and designer.

He explored every medium and type of art, combining painting, sculpture, printing, photography, videos and sound in all-encompassing works. Fascinated by the mechanisms of transformation, Roth used a vast array of materials and objects such as utensils, furnishings, monitors, and food in a process that revealed the constant mutability of the work.
A tirelessly nomadic artist, Dieter Roth (Hannover, 1930—Basel, 1998) spent the early years of his lifein Germany and Switzerland, where he trained as a graphic artist, studying printing and engraving techniques. From 1961 to 1964 he lived in Iceland, where he set up a small publishing company in Reykjavík. During these years he shifted away from the abstract-geometrical style of Concretism towards the poetic vision of Nouveau Réalisme. Between 1964 and 1966 he lived in the United States, where his first solo exhibition was put on at the Museum College of Art in Philadelphia and where he taught the graphic arts class at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. During this period Roth began creating works and prints using organic matter and food, concentrating on the changeability of the work of art. He later travelled around Germany, Austria and Iceland, where he continued his work creating artist’s books. At the same time he experimented with found objects and video, producing works that reveal the influence of Fluxus. Roth’s work has been acclaimed since the1980s and he represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 1982 with his A Diary installation of 40 films portraying the artist’s life. This led to a period of introspection, which was to characterize his later investigations.
In the 1990s, while suffering health problems which led to his death in 1998, he receivedever greater honors and exhibitions devoted to his works in the world’s leading institutions. In 1999 Roth was presented posthumously with Solo Scenes at the Venice Biennale directed by Harald Szeemann. Important retrospectives have been shown at MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani deBarcelona (2002); at the Museum Ludwig and the Schaulager, Basel (both in 2003); at MoMA PS1 in New York (2004); at the Museu Serralves in Oporto (2008); and at the Camden Arts Centre in London (2013). His works have been shown at three editions (4, 6 and 11) of the most accredited internationalart show documenta. 

The anthological Islands exhibition at HangarBicocca has been made possible thanks to the support of Novi, Italy’s leading company in the chocolate sector. Dieter Roth’s works Selbstturm (Self Tower) and Coquillen-Zwerge (Coquille Gnomes) have been made directly on-site, in the exhibition space, by Björn Roth and his assistants, selecting and shaping an immense supply of top-quality, extra fine chocolate from Novi.