Engaged in many facets of artistic production, from painting and drawing to writing poetry and music, Dieter Roth (Swiss, born Germany, 1930–1998) never settled with one style or in one place for long. Among the few constants in Roth’s output was his engagement with editioned mediums—books, prints, and multiples—which he made, beginning in his student days, until the end of his life. In experimental projects he radically expanded the definitions of these established formats, spreading his printing plates with organic materials in lieu of ink, filling sausages with ground paper instead of meat, submerging plastic toys in chocolate, and producing a dazzling array of variations on printed postcards.
Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing: Editions by Dieter Roth focuses on the artist’s incredibly innovative and prolific period between the late 1950s and the early 1970s. The exhibition takes its title from a phrase in Snow (1964/1969), a major book project that marked a turning point in Roth’s approach, away from the rigorous, abstract visual language of his early work to an embrace of chance, the everyday, and accumulation. Its pages reflect the mind of the artist at work and are a trove of information about his creative process, plans for future works, literary and technical experiments, thoughts on artistic colleagues, and much more. Snow and the artist’s subsequent radical experiments with editioned formats challenged traditional notions of beauty and offered an expanded definition of art in the twentieth century.
Image: Dieter Roth. children’s book (kinderbuch). 1957. Artist’s book, letterpress printed, page: 12 5/8 x 12 11/16″ (32 x 32.3 cm). Publisher: forlag ed, Reykjavík. Printer: Hólar Prent, Reykjavík. Edition: approx. 100. The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York. Photograph: Peter Butler. © 2013 Estate of Dieter Roth