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The Dieter Roth Academy

The Dieter Roth Academy consists of friends and co-workers of the late Swiss artist Dieter Roth (1930-1998). The Academy has its address at Skaftfell in Seyðisfjörður, Iceland. The Academy is not a formal institute. Instead, prospective students can get into contact with any of its professors and thereby be accepted as students of the Academy.

Professors of the Dieter Roth Academy

Eggert Einarsson – Reykjavík
Kristján Guðmundsson – Reykjavík
Sigurður Guðmundsson – China
Gunnar Helgason – Reykjavík
Dorothy Iannone – Berlin
Bernd Koberling – Berlin
Pétur Kristjánsson – Seyðisfjörður
Rainer und Agnes Pretzell – Abaliget
Björn Roth – Basel
Andrea Tippel – Berlin
Rúna Thorkelsdóttir – Amsterdam
Henriëtte van Egten – Amsterdam
Jan Voss – Amsterdam
Tom Wasmuth – New Mexico

Dieter Roth (1930-1998)

Dieter Roth was born 1930 in Hanover, to German-Swiss parents. He went to school in Zürich from 1943 onwards. 1947-1951 he learned graphics and lithography at the Berner Kunstgewerbeschule. During this period he made his first contacts with other artists like Daniel Spoerri, Marcel Wyss and Franz Eggenschwiler.

Dieter was a co-founder and co-editor of the journal “Spirale” (1953-) which specializes in literature, theoretical texts and Druckgraphik. He worked as a designer and advertisement graphic designer (Werbegestalter) in Basel, Bern, Copenhagen and New York. In 1957, Dieter Roth moved to Iceland.

His work in the 1950s is characterized as “constructive”. An exhibition of Jean Tinguely in Basel (1960) deeply impressed Roth and led to a change in his approach. Representative for this period of change are the two works “14 Zeitungs-Illustrationen” (1963/64) and the first “Literaturwurst” (1961). During this time Roth created a large number of book objects in which newspapers are integrated as material.

For the work following thereafter, found materials are essential. In 1974 Roth created a “Literaturwurst” out of the 20 volumes that make up the oeuvre of G.W.F. Hegel. He increasingly turned to organic materials, such as spices, fruit, chocolate and sausages, which he enclosed in Plexiglas or plastic foil and left them to rot.

The book medium is inseparably connected with Dieter Roth. His first “Kinderbuch” appeared in 1957. In 1971, he edited his collected works together with the Edition Hansjörg Mayer. Roth was the co-founder of several publishing companies, such as Dieter Roth’s Verlag, Taucher Verlag, Wasserpresse, Regenverlag. In the late 1970s/early 1980s, he produced copied diaries, using notebooks from the 1960s.

In the 1980s, Roth took on a more documentary approach. At the same time, his works expanded into space. His installations were arbitrary collections of objects; often they stood in his atelier for years and were constantly changed. During the last decade of his life Dieter Roth spent long periods living and working in Seyðisfjörður. Dieter Roth died from heart failure on June 5th, 1998, in Basel.