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
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
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.