The Rot Room

Dedicated to:
b. April 21, 1930,
Hanover, Germany
Dieter Roth
aka Diter Rot
d. June 5, 1998
Basel, Switzerland.

News:a new film about the artist: Dieter Roth - Puzzle will be show in London, October, 2008. How can we bring this film to the US?

About the Artist

Dieter Roth was a fantastically creative artist. His work overlaps Pop, conceptual, fluxus, and other forms, but defies categorization. He was a sincere, lovable nut, and has been one of my favorite artists since I first came across 'Stupidogramme' in my college art library.

He was named one of the Top 10 of the 90's by Daniel Birnbaum (director of IASPIS ) in the December '99 issue of Artforum magazine. And there is a column in Umbrella dedicated to him.

See the Bibliography put together by the Dieter Roth Foundation.

, and also on ArtNet

Diter and the Clouds, a Legend by Dick Higgins, is a nice poem referring to Diter Rot. I was going to ask the author for permission to display it here, but he also passed away very recently (December, 1998; Read the Tribute in Colophon). . I hope nobody minds.

Here is what Herr Rot says of himself:

"When I was born, I found myself, so I have been told, at a place in Germany, which I found the most horrible place to be, early or late in life. Horribly screaming Germans everywhere ... All three Germans, Englishmen, Americans from Northamerica, as bloodthirsty at that time as the silly French ... Then I was brought to Switzerland, my horribly Christian Home Country. There were those murderous, butchering people, called solders and defenders of Freedom ... I fell into that awfully black hole called Matrimony, and I struggled there, horribly kicking, fucking and pissing in my timid little pants for seven years. ... Running around different countries, all the same though I find myself a dweller of butchershops, cannibal of fate, rage, tears, fears and shit, piss, blood and shit, a bastard of fear, murderous Hangover from Hell. Pissing in his awfully shitting, pissing, shitting trousers, called his pants, of fears and tears, Hangover from shitfucking places like Hell, Germany, U.S.A., England, France, China, Russia, Heaven, God, Angels, Christ, Buddha, Shit, Piss, and Fear."

About his work

'Stupidogramme' (band 9 of his Gesammelte Werk (Collected Works)) is an example of 'Book Art', art in the medium of a book. Rot was an innovator in this field. I especially like '246 Little Clouds'.

Another of his great obsessions was food. Alas, due to the transitory nature of food (an essential aspect of these works) we shall never experience these works again. Rot worked in sweets, sausage, cheese, anything. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Richard Hamilton in 1974:

RH: Some of the work which you have done seems like a satire on abstract expressionism. The things you do with food seem like a way of ridiculing the involvement with media and for its own sake. Is that a consious thing at all?

DR: No. I think what I consciously did when I smeared cheese, or whatever it was, on something, was very serious and sentimental and romantic. It was real German tough stuff. But it was interpreted as irony, which it was not.
DR: I've found this trick - that whatever, as an artist, you do and don't like, you pour some stuff over it, and it will turn out to be marvelous! Everybody likes it, either for the reason that it seems to be ironical or for the reason that it seems to be lyrical, as you say.

Exhibits and Museums

Exhibits featuring or including works by Rot

Text/Messages: Books by Artists Walker Art Gallery (Minneapolis, MN), December 18, 2008 - April 19, 2009

Front Room: Dieter Roth & Rachel Harrison Baltimore Museum of Art, October 12, 2008–January 4, 2009

Dieter Roth: the collected works (artists books) grahame galleries + editions (Australia) November 22, 2008 - December 5, 2008

Arnulf Rainer - Dieter Roth - Mixing and Seperating Belveder (Orangery - Vienna) 26 September 2008 to 11 January 2009

Invisible Rays: The Surrealism Legacy Rose Art Museum (Brandeis U, MA) Sept. 26 to Dec. 14, 2008

Drawings at Gladstone (NY),April 5 - May 3, 2008

At Home Lincart (San Francisco), 9/16/2008 - 10/25/2008

Old News at Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN), February 16th – March 22nd, 2008

Roth Time: A Dieter Roth Retrospective
March 12 - June 7, 2004 at the Museum of Modern Art (Queens)
"the first comprehensive museum overview of the work of Swiss artist Dieter Roth (19301998), one of the most influential European artists of the postwar period."

Dieter Roth Museum and the Dieter Roth Foundation, pages are in German....

Featured in Eat Art at Harvard

Dieter Roth: Prints, Drawings, Books, etc
May 26? -- July 31, 1999
Goldie Paley Gallery
Moore College of Art
20th St & Ben Franklin Pkwy,
Philadelphia, PA
"Die Bücher der Künstler: Artists' Books from 1920-1990"
I space Gallery,
Feb. 19 -- Mar 13, 1999.
230 W. Superior St., Chicago. IL

A panel discussion held Feb. 20 at the I Space covered issues of collecting, definitions of 'book art', concrete poetry, fun, money, hands-on vs. hands off, and other interesting topics. The panel include Ira Wool, noted collector of Roth.

November 14 - January 10, 1999
Krannert Art Museum , Champaign, Illinois

This is a wonderful exhibit, which I have had the privilege of seeing at both Illinois locations. It includes The Reading Room, where many examples are available for reading (not just viewing through a plexiglass case) Multi-media books on CD-ROM are also available. It will be traveling to NY after it leaves Chicago.

This exhibition was organized by the Foreign Relations Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, and coordinated in the United States by the Goethe-Institut in Chicago.

"The exhibition is an exhaustive display of self-published and small-press artists' books from Germany," said Krannert curator Leslie Brothers. "While it includes some early examples, dating back to the '20s, the core of the collection begins with artists associated with the Fluxus movement of the 1960s." Also represented are "influential book-centered artists" who have produced their work in the last 30 years -- among them Dieter Roth, whose complete collection of books is included in the show.
"Hommage Dieter Roth "
Galerie Holtmann, Cologne, Germany
"All Kinds of Everything "
Nolan/Eckman Gallery, 1998
560 Broadway, New York, New York 10012
Drawings, sculptures and a painting.
Saturday, January 10, 1998 - Saturday, February 28, 1998
"The Experimenters "
Currated by Kenny Schachter.
Wednesday, December 18, 1996 - Saturday, January 18, 1997
Lombard-Freid Fine Arts, 470 Broome Street, New York, New York 10013
"Drawings by American and European Artists "
Friday, October 18, 1996 - Saturday, November 30, 1996
Margarete Roeder Gallery, 545 Broadway, New York, New York 10012
Alfred Kren Gallery, New York, 1985
catlogue includes essay by Roth, Ira Wool
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1984
predominanty the collection of Ira Wool, Roth collector and Chicagoan.
Carl Solway Gallery, New York, 1978
w/Richard Hamilton
European Galery, San Francisco, 1973
Group show
Guggenheim, New York, 1972
Eugenia Butler Gallery, Los Angeles, 1970
Snow with an ending
Philadelphi Museum School of Art, 1964
Roth was teaching there at the time.


Roth was relentless creative in the field of Art books. A good start is the catogue to "Die Bücher der Künstler"

Articles about Roth's work
Various; Artforum International, October '98 .
Several articles written by people who knew him.
Peter Winter (tr: Saun Whiteside) Flash Art, May/June 1996, p.118; review of "Diter Roth, Works, 1970-1995" at Heinz Holtman (in ?, Germany)
"Real Art", John T. Paoletti, Art on Paper, September/October 1998, p.28-34; Nice discussion of Roth's work.
Donald Kuspit, Artforum, February 1990, p. 135-6; review of exhibit at David Nolan Gallery.
Keith Seward, Artforum, May 1995, p. 101-2; review of "Bunnies", group show including Roth's Rabbit, 1975.
Peter Nesweda, Kunstforum, #131 August-October 1995, p.304-309; Interview with Roth, in German.