Dieter Roth PRESSED SQUASHED SQUEEZED Material- and Printmaking

The German-Swiss artist and poet Dieter Roth (*1930 in Hanover, †1998 in Basel) is one of the most prominent exponents of Concrete Poetry. The Deichtorhallen Hamburg is dedicating a major exhibition with some 1,100 works at the Falckenberg Collection to his prints.

Curated by Dr. Ina Jessen und Dr. Dirk Dobke, the exhibition Pressed Squashed Squeezed: Dieter Roth and Printmaking presents the main themes of his artistic work in 16 sections, from landscapes to still lifes and self-portraits. Dieter Roth’s oeuvre is considered one of the most multifaceted and interdisciplinary in the visual arts.

After apprenticing as a commercial artist and acquiring a deep knowledge of printmaking processes, Roth experimented early on with a wide variety of printing techniques and materials. His early dry point etchings, linocuts, and woodcuts drew from his artistic predecessors, but he quickly developed his own style between filigree, figurative depictions and expressive abstraction. Inspired by geometric principles and patterns, Roth created Op Art works and kinetic objects.

In 1965 he went to the United States to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. There he continued his turn toward experimentation and worked more spontaneously and procedurally. Food products soon also became some of his favorite materials. He created his famous “literary sausages” and “mold pictures,” whose expressive power resulted in a close collaboration with the British graphic artist and painter Richard Hamilton. In the late 1970s, Roth was confronted with the collapse of the print market and turned his focus to serially produced prints, commissioned works, and objects.

Dieter Roth consistently combined his literary work with artistic expression. Until the 1970s he called himself a writer, although he had destroyed his early poems from his youth. Roth continued writing poetry and prose and explored the interactions between writing, language, and wordplay, especially in the titles of his artworks.

The 16 sections into which the exhibition at the Falckenberg Collection is divided illustrate Roth’s immense creative power and the simultaneity of various techniques and subjects with which he engaged in his art.