Dieter Roth. Life and Work

University of Hamburg · Art History Seminar · Summer Semester 2015

Lecturers: Ina Jessen, Gabriele von Schroeter


The œuvre of the artist Dieter Roth (1930 – 1998) spans almost 50 years and is incomparably rich in the diversity of genres and techniques. The most profound collection of this work is in Hamburg’s private collection, whose holdings will be explored together in the seminar, among other things, in two block events: Artists’ books, four decades of prints, music, painting and sculpture precede the use of contemporary technologies such as Super 8 film, Polaroid, Xerox and sound cassettes in assemblages and room-filling installations. “Life and Work” explicitly denotes the particularly intense interlocking of autobiographical experience and artistic practice, well documented by Roth’s parallel, continuous writing. Beyond the artist’s radical subjectivity, various thematic fields are the focus of the seminar: the contextualisation with art historical topoi, artist groups, Roth’s representative position within art history since the 1950s and his pioneering impulses for subsequent generations of artists. Spolia from the “Schimmelmuseum”, which was demolished in 2003, also provide an opportunity to link up with the institute’s own material archive. The question of appropriate treatment and preservation of ephemeral materials opens up the discussion of the immediate, artisanal process of creation, of the controversial, aesthetic and the questioned monetary value, as well as its dependence on the time-enduring originality of the work of art. Finally, the seminar uses the example of the Dieter Roth Foundation to demonstrate various fields of activity for prospective art historians, including the collection curatorship, restoration, documentation and archiving.


Cooperation partner

Dieter Roth Museum and Foundation (Hamburg)

Dieter Roth (mit Björn Roth), Keller-Duo, 1980-1989, Grafikschubladen, Trinkutensilien, Aufnahmegeräte, Mikrophone, Lautsprecher, Öl, Acryl, Marker, Elektro-Klaviere, Violine, Kabel, Dieter Roth Foundation, Hamburg © Dieter Roth Estate Courtesy Hauser & Wirth