Daniel Spoerri, Table Ben, 1990 collezione privata, Modena, photo Paolo Terzi.

“You see, our two foremost instincts are feeding and reproducing – Daniel Spoerri said in 1970 during a banquet – but on the topic of sex there are already so many people who wish to make their voices heard. Instead – and this is actually my most intimate problem – I am interested in the issue of how we survive; i.e. first of all whether we have to survive, and from what points of view. [...] The theme that we somewhat tackily call Eat Art is broad enough to encompass both decadence and also the creative act of rebirth. And making an artwork out of life itself appears to me to be the most delicious way to employ one’s time.”

These words spoken by the Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri (1930) constitute the perfect introduction to the exhibition Daniel Spoerri. Eat Art in transformation which will open in Palazzo Santa Margherita and in the Palazzina dei Giardini, Modena, on 10th October (inauguration at 6pm), after completing its first stage at the m.a.x. museo in Chiasso, Switzerland, open until 30th August 2015. Curated by Susanne Bieri, Antonio d’Avossa and Nicoletta Ossanna Cavadini, staged and co-produced by the Galleria Civica di Modena and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena together with the m.a.x. museo of Chiasso, the exhibition will remain open until the next 31st January.

Daniel Spoerri, who started out as a dancer and choreographer in 1950s Berne, went on to become the inventor of a new artistic language, a concocter of recipes and menus, the life and soul of restaurants and even an actor. Through his poetics, he questioned all forms of conformism, clichés and certainties. A maestro who turned nourishment into his key interlocutor, thus creating an outright trait d’union between art and life. The exhibition itinerary features works ranging from his early experimental period linked to the magazine ‘Material’ (1955-1961), to his kinetic multiples, and his famous tableaux-pièges, ‘snare pictures’, casual compositions of food leftovers and used dishes, trapped in resin and displayed vertically, like paintings – today to be found in some of the most prestigious collections in the world – right up to sculpture and precious archive documents. Naturally, the focus remains on man’s age-old attraction towards food. The exhibition also features the artist’s recipes, notes and the menus of the Restaurant Spoerri in Düsseldorf (1968) right up to those for the Bistrot di Santa Marta, created for the Fondazione Mudima in Milan (2014). A whole section will also be given over to his graphic works: various projects, designs, posters and adverts will be presented. Furthermore, letters and documents will testify to Spoerri’s relationship with other contemporary artists, including Jean Tinguely, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim and Ben Vautier. The works come from the artist’s own collection, from the National Swiss Library of Berne, which houses Spoerri’s archives, and from major European galleries and collectors. In Modena, the exhibition will be enhanced by a section featuring items from collections in the Emilia-Romagna region, with largely unseen works, made available by various generous collectors. There is nothing missing in this original – indeed unique – display, presented to visitors almost like a table set for a feast, one which anyone may, metaphorically, savour.

The exhibition Daniel Spoerri. Eat art in transformation is organized with the Expo Milano 2015 patronage.