PRINT October 1998

Dieter Schwarz

A German artist friend once told me what made him sign up for Dieter Roth’s class at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie in 1968. Meeting the professor for the first time he noticed the fear in his eyes and simply couldn’t help but feel intrigued. Fear was a powerful motivator for Roth, one that put him on his path—to conquer through wit and intelligence the domain of art, which promised him a measure of safety, while he continually tested art’s limits, not as a revolutionary avant-gardist but as an ironic commentator and skeptical moralist. His classes, by the way, weren’t held at the Akademie; instead, he assembled his students in a nearby bar, to keep a safe distance from the school. It later irked him that Beuys got all the credit for unconventional teaching at Düsseldorf.

I don’t know precisely what Roth discussed with students, but perhaps he spoke of his vision of art, as he once formulated

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