Dirk Dobke/From Dieter Roth Estate via Hauser & Wirth Gallery

We originally planned to post this image of artist Dieter Roth’s studio with little comment just because we find it illuminating to see how creative people work, what their spaces look like. Then we stumbled on the story behind this image clipped from the New York Times Magazine a couple of weeks ago, in a piece about an exhibition of Roth’s Work Tables & Tischmatten at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Manhattan. Tischmatten are large gray sheets of cardboard that Roth used to cover his work surfaces. From the Times:

…”[they] soaked up the life of the studio, some of it deliberate (say, a drawing), some of it accidental (the ring left by a cup of coffee or a glass of water), until they were retired from duty and hung on the wall.”

The introduction to the show on Hauser & Wirth’s website reveals them to be more than diaries of Roth’s process:

“As a young concrete artist in the 1950s and 1960s, Roth produced what was then in fashion: organized, controlled works that others would like. ‘In my shame about my smears – which no one wanted to see and no one actually looked at – I started to make constructions,’ he later recalled. ‘Today I leave such crap the way it is. When I have the courage.’

…this body of work…poignantly describes the complex ways in which the artist’s ‘courage’ took form.”

Abby Robinson/Hauser & Wirth Gallery

Abby Robinson/Hauser & Wirth Gallery

Abby Robinson/Hauser & Wirth Gallery

Click here to view a slide show of Roth’s Work Tables and Tishmatten.

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4 replies on “dieter roth’s workspace + the courage to ‘leave crap the way it is’

  1. this article was just what the doctor ordered….”the courage to leave the crap where it is” was so comforting….thank you thank you. i am facing chemo, radiation and a huge surgery in the next few months…so i loved knowing that all is really well and that neatness and order, of which i am also fond, is not always going to happen. thank you thank you improvised life daily, as always you make my day:) suzy

  2. Healing comes from all sorts of places. In my experience, it can come from being let off-the-hook from judgements and “shoulds” and how “things-are-supposed-to-be”. I’m really sorry to hear of the rough times you are encountering. Ihope ‘the improvised life’ will continue to resonate and help you through them. We are here for you.

  3. This was the wrong piece to read on the day I have decided to clean off my desk!

  4. ha. no. it’s all the more reason to clear off your desk: start over on a new mess!

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