Artist biography

Swiss sculptor, performance artist and writer of Romanian birth. In 1942 he fled with his family to Switzerland. Experiences in the theatre provided the background to the art that he began to produce after settling in Paris in 1959. In 1960 Spoerri became a founder-member of Nouveau réalisme. In the same year he produced the first of his tableaux pièges (trap pictures) in which randomly ordered objects were glued on to the furniture and other supports on which they rested exactly as they were found. Displaying the resulting sculpture not on the floor but on the wall, so that the objects appeared to defy gravity, Spoerri turned his realist still-lifes into pictures.

Although Spoerri continued to elaborate his methods of assemblage he also remained committed to live events such as the Autothéâtre on which he collaborated with Tinguely from 1953. By 1963 he was involved with the Fluxus movement.

Spoerri's Musée sentimental (Paris, Pompidou, 1979), followed by similar displays in Germany (Cologne, Kstver., 1979) and Switzerland (Basle, Gewmus., 1989), enabled him to create an approximation to a museum of culture. In each case he used historical documents as a way of concentrating attention on various questions. Of what does the culture of a city consist? How can its breadth of reference – to art, religion, science, economics, legal institutions and sport – be represented? The cultural museum is interpreted as a living museum in which objects tell stories. Spoerri himself continued to be involved in numerous activities.

Daniel Spoerri: Hommage à Isaac Feinstein (exh. cat., Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus., 1971) [incl. doc. and writings by the artist]
Daniel Spoerri (exh. cat. by D. Spoerri and F. Dufrêne, Paris, Cent. N. A. Contemp., 1972)
Daniel Spoerri: Catalogue anecdoté de 16 oeuvres de l'artiste de 1960 à 1964 (exh. cat., Geneva, Gal. Bonnier, 1981) [with interview by J. Runnquist]
Daniel Spoerri (exh. cat. by André Kamber, Reutlingen, Kstgal. Spendhaus, 1985)
Daniel Spoerri: Petit lexique sentimental autour de Daniel Spoerri (exh. cat. by A. Kamber, Paris, Pompidou; Antibes, Mus. Picasso; Vienna, Mus. Mod. Kst; and elsewhere; 1990–91)


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