Zucker Art Books
Nov 17, 2017 5:59PM

Dieter Roth’s oeuvre is a puzzlingly rich and complex world that unfolds from a variety of media including poetry, drawings, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, artists’ books, installations, music, and film. Preoccupied with documentation, detritus, and decay, the artist is most celebrated for his innovative use of the book as an artistic medium, which earned him recognition as “the most significantly imaginative post-war European book artist.”* Indeed, artists have been involved in book production in the West since illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, but Roth was a remarkable game-changer for the medium, as he is widely regarded as one of the very first to assume all roles necessary to the realization of a book: author, artist, and publisher.

A poet, artist, and a master of printing techniques, Roth referred to his earliest book projects as visual poetry, declaring that his unique and visually lyrical experiments are categorically concrete—an aesthetic whose form is the content and whose content is delivered via the form. Materiality overwhelms the content in many of his books, thereby providing his audience an experience somewhat akin to the museum-goer’s encounter with art, all while maintaining an intimacy of the reading experience. He challenged the book by asking provocative questions for his time: Must it have words? How do you make a book about making a book? Can literary objects have a physical life and death of their own? With his radical book projects, Roth ushered his audience into a world of visual literacy. This extraordinary collection of Roth’s work focuses on a few conceptual themes that run though his artistic practice. It involves experimental books dedicated to variations on geometric prints; hand-cut works that defy the codex form and allow readers to curate their own experience of geometric multiplicity; production practices that celebrated quantity over quality; the addition of organic materials, which attempts to both subvert and give singular life to the book, as well as introduce the need for manuscript and archive collection preservation practices to align with museum ones; and fi nally, the democratization of art via the convenient and disposable object of the book.•

Maggie Rosenau  

* Drucker, Johanna. Century of Artists’ Books. New York: Granery Books, 2004. P.12.  

Dieter Roth
Puzzle, 1958/ 1997
Zucker Art Books
Zucker Art Books