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Daniel Spoerri

Born in 1930 in Galați Romania, Daniel Spoerri (real name Daniel Isaak Feinstein) emigrated to Switzerland when his father died in 1941, and was raised by his maternal uncle, who was the head of the University of Zurich. Before embarking on his artistic adventure, he started a career as a dancer at the Stadttheater in Bern from 1954 to 1957, then dedicated himself to stage directing and set design for avant-garde plays. A lifelong poet, in 1957 he founded Material, the first magazine of concrete poetry.

After moving to Paris in 1959, he created the publishing house Mat (for Multiplication d’art transformable / Multiplication of Transformable Art), which used unusual processes to present multiples by artists like Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Victor Vasarely and Jean Tinguely. It was his friendship with Tinguely since 1949 and his meeting with Yves Klein that decisively oriented him towards a career as a visual artist, and motivated him to create his first “Snare-Pictures” in 1960.

In Klein’s apartment that same year, Spoerri joined the new realists’ group in the presence of art critic Pierre Restany and artists Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Arman, Martial Raysse, Raymond Hains, Jacques Villeglé and François Dufrêne. Becoming aware of their collective singularity, they all endeavored to re-explore everyday objects by diverting them from their primary function in order to dissolve the boundaries between art and life, in a critical, unconventional spirit. In 1963, alongside the “Snare-Pictures”, Spoerri developed the “Détrompe-l’œils”, dressed-up pictures that were more inspired by surrealism, then the “Word Snares” around 1964, which humorously illustrated proverbs and expressions.

Equally mixing his artistic quest with his quest for taste, he declared himself the inventor of Eat Art by creating temporary restaurants where the viewer was invited to produce a work of art, or by opening a real restaurant bearing his own name in 1968 in Düsseldorf, offering “disguised meals”. In Milan, on November 19, 1970, for the tenth anniversary of New Realism, he organized a funeral banquet for the movement, “The Last Supper”, translating works into edible items. He also created trophy-assemblages, “Pocket-Emptyings”, and in 1976 he opened the “Museum of Fetishes” and the “Aberrations Boutique”.

An eclectic personality and multidisciplinary artist, Spoerri is one of the last living original members of the new realism movement. He lives in Seggiano, Tuscany (Italy). Following the 1990 show at Paris’s Centre Georges-Pompidou, in 2001 the Tinguely Museum in Basel presented a major retrospective of his work entitled Daniel Spoerri – Metteur en scène d'objets.