Dieter Roth: The radicalism of social disengagement

In the NY Sun, Stephen Maine reports that Dieter Roth’s work possesses some of the neo-Dada characteristics of Pop art, but is “as enmeshed with dissolution and decay as his American contemporaries were smitten with antiseptic consumerism. Today, Roth’s greatest notoriety proceeds from olfactorily transgressive works confected of fugitive materials, notably chocolate, sausages, and cheese. Boundary-bashing was in the air during this heady time, of course, but in Roth the viewer senses not the stateside theatricality and optimism of Claes Oldenburg or Allan Kaprow, but a distinctly European interiority and skepticism, the radicalism of social disengagement. Institutional validation was utterly unimportant to Roth, which is one reason why he was little-known in this country, outside of art-world circles, before the retrospective exhibition, “Roth Time,” at the Museum of Modern Art/Queens and P.S.1 in 2004. Even then, skeptics refused to acknowledge that show’s horrific undertow, its circumspect but inexorable explication of bodily failure, and the artist’s simultaneous fascination and disgust with the corporeal enormity of human existence.”Read more.

Dieter Roth, Drawings,” Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York, NY. Through May 3.
Related post: NY Times Art in Review: Substraction, Dieter Roth

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