Like Daniel Isaac Feinstein, Daniel Spoerri moved with his family to Switzerland in 1942, after the death of his father at a very young age. Housed by his maternal uncle, Professor Theophil Spoerri, they took his surname. Years later, he moved to Paris on a scholarship.
Daniel Spoerri’s snare-pictures or ‘picture-traps’
In 1959, he realised L’Autotheâtre with Jean Tinguely, a place ‘where the spectator is in turn actor and audience’, at the Hessenhuis in Antwerp. At the same time, he signed a two-year contract as assistant director at the Darmstadt Theatre, became friends with Emmett Williams and published the concrete poetry magazine material.
MAT editions, the ‘multiples’
He returned to Paris to create the Edition MAT (Multiplication d’art Transformable), which aimed to free the work of art from its uniqueness by means of multiple serial reproduction, so as to bring more people closer to the enjoyment of the artistic work and the creative process it implies.
Many artists participated in MAT, including Arp, Bury, Christo, Agam, Albers, Duchamp, Saint-Phalle, Soto, Gerstner, Man Ray, Rainer, Roth, Tinguely and Vasarely.
In the same period, he produced his first Tableaux-Pièges (picture-traps).
Spoerri and the New Realism
In 1960 he met Yves Klein thanks to Tinguely; he participated in the events of the Nouveau Réalisme group, whose founding declaration he signed.
At the Festival d’Art d’Avantgarde, he exhibited the picture-traps for the first time.
Spoerri and eat art
In 1963, he exhibited 723 utensiles de cuisine at Galerie J, which was transformed into a restaurant for the occasion – For each dinner, Menu-pièges were made from the remains left on the tables by diners.
The same year he made his first contacts with Fluxus.
In 1970 he exhibited bread dough objects at the Al Vecchio Pastificio gallery in Cavigliano, Switzerland.
He held solo exhibitions with Lindner, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Beuys, Ben, Arman (accumulations of sausage, prawns, cooked in jelly), César (compressions of praline bonbons) and with Claude and François Lalanne, Le dîner cannibale. Once the work, created by each artist with the material of his or her choice, has been eaten, a signed certificate testifies to its existence.
For the tenth anniversary of Nouveau Réalisme, he prepares The Last Supper, Funeral Banquet of Nouveau Réalisme, making, at the request of Raymond Hains, a Tarte de Milan, Entremets de la palissade, with 1,000 candles and cut by his guest, Professor Caramel.
In Amsterdam, he created a series of 13 paintings, entitled Les dangers de la multiplication, in which children’s shoes are caught in mousetraps.
In 1972, the Daniel Spoerri Retrospective was held at the Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Paris. In 1983, he organised ‘Jouy-en-Josas, Déjeuner sous l’herbe’, a breakfast under the grass, at the Centre Culturel du Montcel, in which the tableau piège of a 40-metre-long banquet was buried on site.
With the help of students from the Internationale Sommerakademie, at the Mirabellengertens in Salzburg, he creates a labyrinth-intestinal-path where visitors play the part of food, which is first chewed and then expelled outside.
Again, with his students, the following year he organised a taste trail through the Munich ateliers.
In Rome, he created the bronze series of Night Warriors. In 1990, the largest retrospective dedicated to Spoerri was held at the Centre Georges Pompidou, which was later also shown in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.