Dieter Roth

Self-Portrait at a Table


Not on display

Dieter Roth 1930–1998
Original title
Selbstbild am Tisch
Oil paint, acrylic paint, glue, food, plastic and paper on cardboard on hardboard
Support: 730 × 1086 mm
Purchased 1977

Display caption

Self-Portrait at a Table was reworked twice. Roth originally called it Triptych of Cats, but continued working on it until it took on the structure of a self-portrait. Elements of its making (a paintbrush, a plastic spoon and fork, a map of Iceland) are embedded within the surface. Notorious for his inclusion of even more ephemeral materials, Roth also included chocolate and butter in this composition.

Gallery label, March 2007

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Catalogue entry

Dieter Roth born 1930 [- 1998]

T02210 Self-Portrait at a Table 1973-6

Inscribed '[Selbstbild, am Tisch]' b. centre, towards r., and 'Dieter Roth 76' b.r.
Fluorescent and oil paint, acrylic, glue, chocolate, butter and collage on cardboard glued on hardboard, 28 3/4 x 42 3/4 (73.2 x 108.6)
Purchased from Hansjörg Mayer (Grant-in-Aid) 1977
Repr: The Tate Gallery 1976-8 (London 1978), p.64

This picture was painted partly in Iceland and partly in England, and was signed and dated at the time of its completion. According to Hansjörg Mayer, it was reworked twice. The first title was 'Katzentryptichon' (Triptych of Cats), but the artist was not happy with it and continued working on it, and then changed the original title. There are still several traces of cats' eyes and whiskers in the left hand panel.

The artist is shown seated at a table drawing with a real paintbrush and with a small plant to his left. He says that the orange is fluorescent dye which will darken with time, the dark brown lump at the right of the base of the plant is chocolate and the creamy yellow substance beside it is butter. The lower section of the plant incorporates parts of a plastic spoon and fork supplied on an aeroplane, while the printed tape stuck on in several places, with his name, an address in Iceland and a motif of a fish and a bird, is the tape made for his own publishing firm. The painting was begun on a single sheet, but he afterwards cut it up and changed the arrangement of the panels. (To judge by the relative directions of a large-scale map of Iceland visible under the paint in a few places on the two left-hand panels and by the fanning out of a series of pencil lines, he seems to have turned the centre panel upside down). Two further touches of blue to the left of the head and one on the forehead were added by him at the Tate on 25 October 1977, when he gave the above information about his two works [see also note on T02209].

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.655, reproduced p.655

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