I have to say that when I saw the brochure of the Erik Dietman Collection at the Maeght, I was determined to hate his work.
One thing that irritates me is people with half baked ideas who find something and declare that it is art. Duchamp got away with it because he was first, but now you really have to find a better punchline. The Erik Dietman I saw at the Foundation Maeght does not rely on found art or half baked ideas.
His works are fiddlings ( this is not pejorative) of a different mind but all well presented and here all were rendered in noble materials :bronze, stone, pigments, paper. In other words, he did not just rely on found art alone. He saw a stone and took it one step further....or two steps or three!
Who couldn't love the face of the Corsican philosopher above surrounded by his friends.
And such friends....one of who looks like a loaf of bread gone skewiffy with a few nipples added as eyes and a whistling mouth. Another beside him looks like a fossilized duck. Here is an artist enjoying himself.... A self taught artist who is just messing around and then has the boldness to say, yes, I have a statement to make here, I'll bronze the lot.
This one is called Jesus Island and aside from the pleasing graphic quality with ink and charcoal it does look like someone is out there walking his dogs in a solitary wood of blobs and scratches. The naive quality of a five year old in deep concentration is appealing.
We find his playfulness in many pieces by the titles he presents . This sculpture is left to our imagination... simply called Korean Saw which is presumably the piece of hardware on the right which now comes to look like a porcupine sniffing the rump of another four titted creature.
Here is a beautifully rendered marble serpent almost looking like an elaborate Easter bread with two heads. I believe the name was " Swiss Thought."
Here is a mixed media work on paper that had a certain chaotic appeal.
This offering was a skull on a saucer ! Gleeful. Dietman did lots of skulls before all the young artists of today got on the bandwagon. There are at least five more examples in the show of the theme of skulls; real or rendered in paint.
This is Lawrence of Arabia writing home.
According to what little I have learned about the Erik Dietman , he had a huge output in a myriad subjects, materials and techniques. Missing from this exhibition are examples of his stained glass works, but there is enough here to chew on and want to know more. I have left out many of the 50 works in this fine display; so go have a look if you are in the region.
This from Berengo Fine Arts Gallery:
Erik Dietman was born in Jönköping, Sweden, in 1937. He studied at the academy of fine arts in Malmö but lived in France for most of his life; he died in Paris in 2002.
He was a member of the Fluxus movement, that asserted the intrinsic artistic quality of even the most common gesture, and claimed artistic creation should not be confined to the field of aesthetics, but be part of the flow of daily life, on behalf of an absolute conception of art.
Among the exhibits he took part in, let us mention: “Eloge de l’envie”, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice (2001); “L’ami de personne”, a monumental sculpture at the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (2000); “För fulla glas”, National Museum, Stockholm (1999); “Erik Dietman-Sculptor Classicus”, Musée d’Art Moderne, Saint Etienne (1997) and “Erik Dietman: Sans titre. Pas un mot. Silence”, Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris (1994).
His production is extremely vast, partly owing to his interest for in a great variety of materials and techniques; he was particularly fond of stained glass, in whose use of which he developed great skill.
Although he used traditional mediums media such as marble, stone, wood, bronze and paper, Dietman introduced themes into art that had themes never been addressed before.
Pataphysics, scatology and self-acknowledgedan awareness of the grotesque play an important role in the artist’s work, in which wordplay and double entendre meanings have always found a proper place and achieved their communicative end.