Dieter Roth made art using whatever came to hand. He enjoyed using materials such as foodstuffs, including chocolate, banana, salami and cheese, that not only produced interesting aesthetic effects like rings of grease, but also evolved over time, developing from one physical state to another or decomposing, for instance. He observed such changes with a certain melancholy, seeing them as symbolising life itself.
Roth was a free spirit with a compulsion to create art, mainly drawings, which could be produced anywhere with the most basic of materials. He used an exceptionally broad range of materials and techniques, from pencil, felt tip and collage to stamps with one or two hands, working on the telephone in collaboration with other artists, and drawing in notebooks, on desk blotters, tracing paper, among many others. He took what he found and turned it into art.
Braunvieh is emblematic of his range of techniques and the random nature of his creative process. He poured vinyl adhesive onto cardboard, let it spread out, then roughly fleshed out the earthly sphere in brown, leaving out the space for his own right-hand profile, recognisable by the bald pate and pointed nose. A scrap of torn paper represents the eye, topped by a simplified eyebrow in blue felt tip. The time zones are also sketched in.
Typically, Roth has saturated the entire surface of the medium with successive layers. The drawing, with the artist hugging the world in his arms, can be read as a manifestation of his appetite for everything that comes his way and his sense of oneness with the world itself: his work is the world. He is the world.
Marion Daniel (ed.), Dieter Roth. Processing the World, exh. cat. Rennes, Frac Bretagne, Dijon, Les presses du reel, 2014.
Theodora Vischer and Bernadette Walter (eds.), Roth Time. A Dieter Roth Retrospective, exh. cat. Basel, Schaulager, Köln, Museum Ludwig, New York, Museum of Modern Art and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Baden, Lars Müller Publishers, 2004.