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Dieter Roth

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Dieter Roth

German-Swiss, (1930–1998)
Dieter Roth was a German-Swiss Conceptual artist. Best known for his use of biodegradable foodstuffs, he created large-scale installations and sculptures that incorporated cheese, chocolate, and sugar, lending oppressive smells to his exhibitions. Blurring the line between process and product, Roth embraced accidents, mutation, and mutability in his finished works. Born in Hannover, Germany, he gained asylum in Bern, Switzerland during World War II as a teenager. Influenced by formal exercises in design, commercial art, and the works of Paul Klee, Roth employed typography and geometric elements to produced books during the 1950s. Moving to the United States in 1964, Roth taught at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, where he famously held classes in which he refused to tell students how to do anything. By the late 1980s, he was major figure in the international art world, representing Switzerland at the 1992 Venice Biennale and, later that same year, the subject of a large-scale retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the later years of his life, he collaborated extensively with his son, Björn Roth, notably including his Solo Szenen (Solo Scenes) (1997–1998), a video installation intimately documenting the last year of the senior Roth’s life as he succumbed to illness.

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