Daniel Spoerri

Galerie Anne Barrault
51, Rue des Archives
September 2, 2017–October 28, 2017

Daniel Spoerri, Untitled, 3 octobre 2015, 2015 mixed media, 49 x 63 x 18". From the series “Bilder tollwut” (Mad Paintings), 2015.

Over the past fifty years or so, Daniel Spoerri has buried tiny clues about his aesthetic commitments in the scattered miscellanea of his work. But it would be a mistake to think that assemblages such as Untitled, 3 octobre 2015, 2015, from the series “Bilder tollwut” (Mad Paintings), 2015––a mosaic of cheap picture frames filled with images of kittens and cowboys, faded family portraits, reproductions of religious art and charming folk-art paintings, a rubber horse head and a porcelain tea set suspended flat against this canvas of bric-a-brac––are simply puzzles to be solved. Spoerri’s works are part fetish and part inside joke, produced with an earnestness that invites us to pause and consider the nostalgia he is meting out. Themes emerge and images repeat, making an opening for us to enter.

This collection of works from his long career is an opportunity to ask where Spoerri belongs. He is the last man standing in a sprawling genealogy of Fluxus artists. He is a dark horse who unselfconsciously brings naughtiness to the verge of perversion, à la Paul McCarthy, with a sentimentality and a sense of the everyday found in Christian Boltanski. Even smaller works such as Men stay at home and dream of flying as butterflies but, 1967 (from a series of postcards created with Roland Topor and Robert Filliou, “Monsters are inoffensive,” 1967), find affinities with artists such as Tony Oursler while maintaining their own mystique. Spoerri is hard to place unless you are in front of one of his works: Then he is right where you are.

— Todd Meyers