Beginning with the opening line ‘A tear is better than a word’, ‘Das Tränenmeer’ (‘The Sea of tears’) and ‘Dars Wähnen’ (‘The Delusion’) by Dieter Roth are three poetic artists’ books accessible from our CABS collection. The item is classed under two entries in our online catalogue but consists of three volumes, known as bands.
‘Das Tränenmeer’ was published in 1973 and collected together 248 aphorisms, or small one-line poems, which originally appeared from May 1971 in a local advertising bulletin. Band one solely shows these aphorisms, one per page, whilst Band two contain sketches and corrections, and Band three contains sketches, poems and prose. Band three is entitled ‘Dars Wähnen’ (‘The Delusion’) but sub-headed ‘Tränenmeer 3’.
Presented to the library by L. Pedersen in 1988, the books themselves are notable for their sewn pages and illustrations. The book was originally published in editions of 200 per volume. The library’s copy of volume 1 is numbered 108, and volume 2 is number 29.Roth’s Das Wähnen was also presented to the library by Pedersen in 1988, number 21 of another edition of 200 and is signed by the artist opposite the page numbered 262.
Dieter Roth (1930-1988) was a Swiss-German artist, also known as Dieter Rot and Diter Rot. His writing has been described as important as his art, with his poetry inspiring illustrations and so on in a cyclical nature.
As well as artists’ books, Roth was known for his printmaking and sculpture.
Throughout his life he continued to create art in various mediums.
Well known for his artists books’, the library unfortunately (or fortunately, given the tendency food has for rotting) does not hold a copy of the 1972 book Literaturwurst, which consisted of ‘various periodicals chopped up, mixed with lard and spices and stuffed into a sausage casing.’
We do hold a copy of the artists’ book “Tentative little recipe” which he produced with a group of students while he was teaching at the Watford School of Art. Other books by and about Dieter Roth can be found on the library’s open shelves.
Kimmelman, Michael, [obituary] ‘Dieter Roth, Reclusive Artist and Tireless Provocateur, 68’, in New York Times, 10 June, 1998.
Tamsyn Bayliss and Lloyd Roderick
Graduate Trainee Library Assistants