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Dieter Roth

Sans titre, 1977
oil on offset on cardboard
23.9 x 69.0 cm
From 1968 to the early 1970s, Dieter Roth was constantly on the move between London, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart, Vienna, Zurich and Los Angeles. Because he was frequently changing addresses, he maintained his professional and personal ties thanks to an extensive correspondence. During this same period he also created an enormous number of works based on postcards, in particular images of Piccadilly Circus in London.

The postcards, which he would paint on and cover with collages, play an important role in his artistic repertoire, and over a thousand of these small-format works probably exist. In his reworking of an image, motifs play a secondary role. As the pretext for an endless exercise in style, they would be manipulated, distorted, contorted, even totally obliterated.

Here it is the famous London road junction of Piccadilly, the city’s emblematic site, overflowing with people, life and traffic. The view is partially covered by two large faces that conceal the existing image in part, bringing about a jump in scale that produces striking visual effects. With their bulging well-rounded cheeks and expressive movements, the two grotesque-looking faces seem to be gesticulating before the scenery of a theatre stage.

The free-and-easy workmanship, the result of a lively, spontaneous attitude, can be seen in many works done by Roth, who declared that painting or drawing came easier to him than thinking or writing. Trying out all kinds of printing processes, even the most novel, the artist generated a considerable amount of graphic art, playing with the distortions of drawing and colourful overlays.
Dieter Roth, Sans titre, 1977