When she asks him about the egg over lunch in Vienna, he says it started with language like everything he’s done. He started by circling the word ‘egg’ in every book he read and then writing sentences around it. “When I started collecting variations all the different elements just started appearing, so I gathered them: later friends added elements and the collection evolved.”
A waiter comes to take their order and she remembers walking through Spoerri’s many assortments of things: small porcelain heads, wooden walking poles, metal frogs, furry masks. “Variations,” he says, “every variation of a thing teaches him something about the thing and then about himself.”
Assortments of curiosities, she thinks, and how they continue to tell stories about the circle of life. Daniel Spoerri creates art out of found objects that lose their function as soon as he integrates them into his works, leaving their old life to start a new one. “That was one of the few pieces Conz actually collected, in a classical way, normally he was doing things differently than anyone I knew, (he smiles).” Plates come and others are taken away. “And when did you know it was finished?” “It was never finished, you just stop. Would you like another glass of wine?”
– From an extract from a conversation between Yael Salomonowitz and Daniel Spoerri
Daniel Spoerri (b. 1930 in Galati, Romania) is a Swiss Romanian avant-garde artist, a member of Nouveau Réalisme, and a promoter of Eat Art. With his works, he has created modern-era Wunderkammers, in which ordinary objects are encapsulated and preserved in time and space. Throughout his life, Spoerri has worked in various professions: as a fruit salesman, tour guide, choreographer, and restaurateur. The core themes of Spoerri’s works emerged as early as the 1960s, proposing an ontological challenge to the nature of art and its inclusion in everyday gestures. Later, he turned galleries into restaurants and art critics into waiters, as in Restaurant de la Galerie J (1963). Connecting art and food under the heading of Eat Art, he founded a restaurant in Dusseldorf in 1968. Prominent among Spoerri’s experiments is the creation of tableaux pièges or “snare pictures,” comprised of used napkins, empty bottles, dirty plates and coffee cups, and overfilled ashtrays; allusive remnants that are left on a table at the end of a meal. Spoerri has been awarded honors, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris held two retrospectives (1972 and 1990). Recent exhibitions include those at the Museum Tinguely in Basel (2001), the Museum of Natural History in Vienna (2012), and the Musée Les Abattoirs (2017).