F is for Friday: Daniel Spoerri

kichka's breakfastevery picture tells a story, don’t it – Rod Stewart

On the death of his father in 1942, Romanian-born Daniel Isaac Feinstein fled to Switzerland with his family where he was adopted by his uncle Théophile Spoerri. He spent the 1950s gaining extensive experience in every aspect of the theatre and through this involvement and his organization of banquets, festivals and exhibitions, Spoerri met some of the great Surrealists of the day. It must have given him the impetus to move to and settle in Paris in 1959 where shortly thereafter he became a founder-member of Nouveau réalisme. 1960 found the artist producing the first of his tableaux pièges (snare pictures such as Kichka’s Breakfast above) where objects in chance positions on tabletops, in drawers or on furniture were glued onto the surface upon which they rested exactly as they were found. The resulting realistic still-life sculptures were displayed vertically on a wall like a conventional picture and the objects they contained appeared to defy gravity.

restaurant de la city galerie


Spoerri’s use of the mundane fragments of daily life, letting chance and the randomness of use dictate their placement, became more elaborate with time. An overwhelming interest with food as art was furthered through his opening in Dusseldorf of the Restaurant Spoerri (1968) which was decorated with 15 years of the artist’s correspondence and served an unusual menu of exotic meats. A daily inspiration for later works, here the preparation of a meal and its consumption by “customers” in effect transformed the first stage of the  creative process into one in which he relinquished control of the artistic piece- its final immortalization as thought-provoking installation clearly illustrates the connectivity between artist, art and consumer through one of man’s most basic and often communal functions – that of eating. Spoerri’s gastronomic interests were not limited to his own work – he founded the Eat Art Gallery located above his restaurant (1970) which presented solo shows of temporary works made from food by such artists as Joseph Beuys, Richard Lindner, Ben, and the Nouveaux Réalistes Arman, César and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Daniel Spoerri has continued to be involved in numerous activities from the Musée sentimental (Paris, Pompidou, 1979), with similar displays in Germany and Switzerland, teaching a course in multi-media at the Fachhochschule für Kunst und Design in Cologne to the most recent cultivation of Il Giardino di Daniel Spoerri in Tuscany.

Find out more about:

Daniel Spoerri
Spoerri’s An AnecdotedTopography of Chance
Unearthing the Picture Trap video
New Realism

F is for Friday: New Realism

variant spoerri


Malingering procrastination often has constructive results as evidenced by a partial clean-out of the kitchen over the last few days. Clutter experts suggest that the hearth of the home, that one room where we gather to prepare and give sustenance in the most human of gestures, is the best place to start when attempting to cut down down on the overwhelming amount of stuff we have collected for far too long. At least 9 hours, 7 drawers and three cupboards later, we disagree. The kitchen is the one place where it is actually the hardest to get rid of things – past the due-date salad seasonings and unidentifiable spice packets aside, there are a whole host of items passed down mother to mother (mostly for baking or prettily presenting) that have made several moves and still haven’t seen much action but are not finding their way into the get-rid-of pile without a fight. Madeleine pans for when we are feeling Proustian, glass pickle dishes with separations because Granny knew that condiments really are that cool, escargot plates – the last snail encountered was in the garden and now lives 4 doors down – will we ever use any of it? Miss Z won’t be having any of “that old crap” and laments the fact that the dinner plates and glasses have switched places “now that (she) just got her friends trained where everything was”. They are not the only ones who will be surprised… and we are not finished.

We often joke between ourselves that prolific artists probably had someone to take care of them, do the meaningless, trivial things of our waking hours like laundry, replacing the toilet paper roll or picking the dog-hair covered cheerio out of the hall carpet. This very stuff of life is, to a whole cadre of artists, material for their next project. Pop artists in the 1960s made it their mission to reimagine traditionally accepted subjects using radical techniques, to transform household objects and the commonplace into fine art. The master of making a complicated statement out of what might seem as simple as dishes on a table is Daniel Spoerri – one of the founders of the New Realist movement and creator of incredible snare-pictures, he proves that sometimes a group of random objects read in their entirety tell a larger, meaningful story.

One wonders what twisted plot is behind all that paraphernalia sitting on our kitchen counter.

Discover more on Daniel Spoerri next week…