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Dieter Roth

Dieter Roth Diaries
Edinburgh Art Festival 2012 Exhibition

Dieter Roth (1930–98) was an artist of astonishing breadth and diversity, producing books, graphics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, assemblages and installation works. He was also a composer, musician, poet and writer. For Roth, art and life flowed readily into each other and much of the material for his artistic output came from his everyday experiences.

Throughout his life, Roth kept a diary: a space to record appointments, addresses, lists and deadlines but also ideas, drawings, photographs and poems. His diaries teem with graphic exuberance and proved a rich source for his work. The Fruitmarket Gallery was fortunate in being able to show Roth’s diaries to the public for the first time in an exhibition which explored the importance of the idea of diary-keeping in the work of this influential artist.

Many of Roth’s works can be understood as kinds of diaries. In the mid 1970s, he attempted to record a year of his life by collecting and preserving all items of waste less than 5mm thick. The resulting work, Flat Waste, celebrates and subverts the ordering principle of a diary. Solo Scenes, a vast video diary, records the last year of Roth’s life on 128 video monitors.

Although Roth died in 1998, his work remains of interest to artists and audiences alike. He had a particular connection to Edinburgh, having been part of Richard Demarco’s exhibition Strategy Get Arts at the 1970 Edinburgh International Festival. This was the first time his work had been seen in Scotland since.

Dieter Roth Exhibition Guide

Dieter Roth Webfilm

Talks and Events


An awfully dreadfully fearful drain he fell down into, wriggling there, at the bottom, in his wet pants* Dieter Roth and Art History

Art historians Deborah Lewer (University of Glasgow), Luke Skrebowski (University of Cambridge), John-Paul Stonard (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), curator Daniel Herrmann (Whitechapel Gallery, London) and writer Sarah Lowndes (Glasgow School of Art) examined Roth’s place in relation to art making in the twentieth century and his legacy for artists now.

*The title of the seminar is extracted from an ‘autobiography’ that Dieter Roth included in the book he made with Richard Hamilton, COLLABORATIONS OF CH. ROTHAM in 1977.

Recorded descriptive tour

Descriptive tour of the exhibition Dieter Roth: Diaries by artist Emily Learmont, specially designed for visually impaired visitors. To download click on the link below, or press play to listen online.

Read a written description of the tour

Related items

Exhibition Poster

This poster was designed by The Fruitmarket Gallery to support the Dieter Roth Diaries exhibition which during the Edinburgh Art Festival 2012.

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Exhibition DVD

This DVD supports the Dieter Roth Diaries exhibition that ran from 2 August – 14 October 2012 at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh.


Fruitmarket Gallery Publications

This book focuses on one of the primary spaces in which Roth merged art and life – the diaries he kept throughout his life.

BUY NOW £24.95