Daniel Spoerri  

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Daniel Spoerri (born March 27, 1930) is Swiss artist from Romanian descent , best-known for his 'snare-pictures', and the book An Anecdoted Topography of Chance (with Roland Topor).


Early Life

Spoerri was born Daniel Isaac Feinstein, on March 27,1930, in Galati, Romania. Although his father, Isaac Feinstein, had converted to Christianity, after Romania entered the War on the side of Nazi Germany he was arrested and killed in 1941. His mother, born Lydia Spoerri, was Swiss was therefore able to emigrate with her family of six children to Switzerland in 1942. There, he was adopted by his maternal uncle and registered as Daniel Spoerri, a name he has retained.

In the 1950s he was active in dance, studying classical dance with Preobrajenska and in 1954 becoming the lead dancer at the State Opera of Bern, Switzerland. He later staged several avant-garde plays including Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and Picasso’s surrealist Desire Trapped by the Tail. During that period he met a number of Surrealist artists, including Jean Tinguely, Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, and also a number of artists subsequently associated with the Fluxus movement, including Robert Filliou, Dieter Roth and Emmett Williams. In the late 1950s, Spoerri married Vera Mertz.


Spoerri is best known for his “snare-pictures,” a type of assemblage or object art, in which he captures a group of objects, such as the remains of meals eaten by individuals, including the plates, silverware and glasses, all of which are fixed to the table or board, which is then displayed on a wall. An Anecdoted Topography of Chance is a literary analog to his snare-pictures, in which he mapped every object located on his table at a particular moment in time, describing each with his personal recollections evoked by the object.

Unusual food

Spoerri founded a restaurant serving unusual food, where he became famous for gluing the plates to the tables. In the 1990s he had a one man show at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.


Daniel Spoerri has been a central figure in the Fluxus movement, having worked with other Fluxus artists such as Emmett Williams.

Eat Art

A major theme of Spoerri’s artwork is food, and he has called this aspect of his work “Eat Art.” This is seen not only in his snare-pictures of eaten meals, but in a variety of other contexts. For example, in 1961 he sold in an art gallery in Copenhagen store bought canned food which he had signed and rubber stamped “Attention: Work of Art.” In 1963, he opened the Restaurant de la Galerie J in Paris, an operating restaurant with waiters from the art world. In 1967, Spoerri opened the Restaurant Spoerri in Düsseldorf and in 1970 opened the Eat-Art-Gallery upstairs. He also published in 1970 a diary of his life on the Greek Island of Symi, in which he included numerous recipes of the dishes he ate. Originally titled A Gastronomic Itinerary,It was later republished under the title Mythology & Meatballs.

Fascination with displacing the horizontal with the vertical

Perhaps Spoerri's fascination with displacing the horizontal with the vertical started when he created the first "tableau-piège" in 1960, The Resting Place of the Delbeck Family, by gluing a number of dinner-table objects on a board [1] and then hanging it on a wall. Or it could have begun with "Dylaby" in 1962 [2], in which he turned the orientation of a whole room clockwise. Objects as well as actors were put in a horizontal position whereas the visitors stayed vertically according to gravity. Being the only ones that had this orientation they felt wrong however.

See Also

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