"Le Cabinet Anatomique"
11 May - 10 June 2000 at Emily Harvey Gallery
Reception for the artist: Wednesday, May 24th, 6:00-8:00
Gallery hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am - 6 pm
Exhibition Catalog Available
Emily Harvey is proud to present a series of new works by Daniel Spoerri: assemblages for which Spoerri has found his starting point in a suite of original surgical lithographs from l839 by N.H. Jacob, a student of Jean-Louis David. He "completes" these exquisitely drawn illustrations with carefully overlaid objects. This group of works is the third (and currently final) part of a larger series entitled Le Cabinet Anatomique.
Spoerri is an inveterate collector of the most curious expressions of human creativity, retrieving such objects, as he retrieved the original graphics to which he applied them, from Europe¹s various flea markets. The works are small in scale and display an eerie, jewel-like precision; and though the images are often cruel, they are presented with great equanimity.
The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalog on Le Cabinet Anatomique published by the Emily Harvey Gallery with a text by the art critic Otto Hahn, translated and introduced by Henry Martin.
Born in Rumania in l930, Daniel Spoerri is one of our era¹s most versatile talents: in addition to being a visual artist, he has also been a dancer, choreographer and theater director, as well as the editor of a magazine of concrete poetry. He moved from Switzerland to Paris at the end of the l950s where he became connected with the group of the Nouveaux Réalistes: Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Arman and Martial Raysse. In l962, he also took part in the first Fluxus Festival of New Music, in Wiesbaden. In l968 he opened the Eat Art Gallery in Düsseldorf, which produced and presented edible works of art by contemporary artists.
The l960s were the period of his first tableaux pièges or "snare pictures," in which chance arrangements of objects, on tables or in drawers, were "snared" and fixed into permanent place exactly the artist found them. These works were followed by "false snare pictures," in which the composition had been thoroughly planned, even while creating the impression of having been determined by chance.
The notion of chance as a guiding principle of Spoerri¹s work was succinctly formulated by the little book which he published in l962, entitled La Topographie anecdotée du hasard (republished in l966 by The Something Else Press in the English translation of Emmett Williams as An Anecdoted Topography of Chance) in which he records all the objects found on the table of his Paris hotel room on October 17th, l961 at 4:17 p.m., also evoking the memories they subsequently brought back to him.
Later phases of Spoerri¹s work were guided by mottoes or titles such as détrompe-l¹oeil (undeceiving the eye), pièges à mots (word traps), or pièges à hommes (man traps), all of which can be seen as variations on the "snare picture," in the sense that the artist exacerbates the literal meanings of images to the point finally of derouting them into absurdity.
Daniel Spoerri currently lives and works in Tuscany, Italy, on a farm in the town of Seggiano, where he is constructing a monumental sculpture garden that includes the work of many of his friends, in addition to his own. Daniel Spoerri will be present for a reception Wednesday, May 24. This occasion marks his first visit to the United States since l975.
Press Release: May 6, 2000
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