Erik Dietman, Monomental

Erik DIETMAN, Monomental
9 April > 13 June 2011


With this exhibition, The Maeght Foundation pays homage to Erik Dietman, who died in 2002. The exhibition was made possible by two donations to the Foundation’s collections. The first of these, Montant (1995) was donated by the artist’s wife, a Swedish collector, and the second, Bossuet enfant (2001) is the donation of a French collector. This exhibition Monomental from 9 April to 13 June 2011, presents about fifty works including sculptures, installations and drawings, an original programme which will be displayed in the Giacometti room. This is the perfect opportunity to discover Dietman’s universe; the Swedish artist born in Jönköping in 1937, lived most of his life in France. In his works he plays with language and introduces humour while working with a wide variety of materials.

Dietman was immersed in the work of Marcel Duchamp and the Dada movement; he also went along with the movements of Fluxus and Nouveau Realisme (New Realism), although without ever joining them. His life and works are principally marked by his bohemian lifestyle and his attitude towards art which he and his circle of friends deliberately kept beyond the boundaries of convention. Dietman’s art was his way of life. He considered life and art to be intimately linked and made use of words, photographs, objects, drawings, paintings and sculptures to reinvent a language. Following his own incredibly poetic meandering, Dietman succeeds in breaking down clichés and preventing us from being trapped by what we see.

His work, qualified as « Dietmanian », bears witness to his love of words and passion for play. This self-taught artist is unclassifiable and occupies a place apart in contemporary creation. His art is an exploration using drawing, sculpture, writing, and creating more or less rough assemblages of objects and materials. It attests to a nature which rebelled against any sort of established art form. Works on paper become pretexts to summon up images and writing; their incongruity purposefully illustrates a « migration art » exploiting all visual resources without making any distinction as to era, genre or style. Dietman beckons us to a walk with fantasy, an irreverent promenade through the history of 20th century art.

This first exhibition of Erik Dietman at the Maeght Foundation, gives the public the opportunity to discover an unusual artist who is recognized but sometimes misunderstood. The first work to arrive in the Maeght collection, Montant (1995) (Going up) is the starting point for the exhibition. The pun in the title is clear: the work which is monumental in size consists of a stone “going up” an iron step ladder. It was set up by the artist in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in1995, opposite the Colombe d’Or. With Bossuet enfant (2001), the artist pays homage to his friend Bernard Lamarche-Vadel a great admirer of Bossuet. This is one of Dietman’s rare works in wood, created at the end of his life. If the object was the starting point, this time it has been transformed by new technologies.

This exhibition comprises about 50 items by Dietman in celebration of his work. There are 2 large installations: La grande pierre et les amis de Pierre le Grand (1996, stone and bronze) – ( a pun on the name « Pierre » which also means « stone » in French) – and Préfiguration d’un pipe-line lingotique (1990, bronze and pipes) made from 44 elements. Other works in the exhibition include about twenty sculptures of various formats made of wood, marble, iron, stone and bronze etc. The public can thus appreciate this protean artist who works with a wide variety of materials; his creations often have titles with double meanings: Le Philosophe corse et ses amis (The Corsican Philosopher and friends) (1993), Dernière pétanque à Saint-Paul (Last boule game at St Paul) (1999), Objet contre toute religion (object against all religions) (1986), La pensée Suisse (Swiss thought) (1983) or Lawrence d’Arabie (Lawrence of Arabia) (1992).

Some 20 drawings of which 6 are large format (150 x 200cm) are also on show, attesting to the artist’s feverish production. Even if his work has been mainly interpreted as that of a sculptor, it is drawing which came first for Dietman (many early works in notebooks or as standalone drawings). He saw drawing as “exercise for the mind” or as “a daily jog”.

In this exhibition between poetry and humour, Dietman once again draws the public into his theatre of the absurd and paradoxical where life, art and language are mingled together.

Erik DIETMAN, Monomental – 9 April > 13 June 2010
Exhibition curator: Olivier KAEPPELIN 




Erik Dietman, Montant, 1995, Donation de Christina Hamrin & Claudine Papillon
© Courtesy Galerie Claudine Papillon, Adagp Paris 2011, Photo Claude Germain 


Fondation Maeght
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06570 Saint-Paul de Vence, France
Tel : +33 (0)4 93 32 81 63
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Entrance fees

Adults:  €15
Groups (more than 10 people), students and under 18 years old :  €10
Children under 10:  free
Filming and photography:  €5
Between two temporary exhibitions, some rooms can be closed to the public. The fee is reduced accordingly.

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By car A8 motorway:
From Cannes: exit n° 47 Villeneuve-Loubet, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Vence.
From Nice or Italie : exit n° 48 Cagnes-sur-Mer, Vence.
Follow signs to La Colle-sur- Loup / Vence. The Maeght Foundation is before the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
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