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La haute ivresse

La haute ivresse, 1987-1988

Erik Dietman
  • Artist (1937 - 2002)

The self-taught sculptor, draughtsman and painter Erik Dietman (1937-2002) was born in Jönköping in Sweden.  At the age of 16, he had a decisive encounter with Oyvind Fahlström, who had just published his manifesto on concrete poetry.  He also discovered the art of Marcel Duchamp and the literature of James Joyce who stimulated his liking for objects, words, and ways of hijacking them.  He left Sweden in 1959 and settled in Paris after various visits and journeys to cities in Europe and the United States.  In Paris he met Robert Filliou and Daniel Spoerri, and struck up friendships with the artists in the Fluxus movement, although he never took part in their activities.  Erik Dietman created assemblages made with salvaged objects.  In this respect, he was associated with the New Realists with whom he exhibited his work, in particular at the Salon de la Jeune Peinture in 1965.  Based on a critical approach tinged with wit and irony, his art shows a great freedom in the choice of materials and in the written words which he ironically incorporated in many of his works.  It was in 1959-60 that he came to notice with his “pensées” (thought) objects covered with surgical gauze (pansé, meaning bandaged in French).  His research into language was expressed in object-pictures which he produced in the 1970s, and which associated images and words in several languages.  This was also the period when he created two pseudonyms for himself, and imagined their biography (F. T. Bidlake and Outil O’Tool).  The year 1975 saw his first retrospective show at the City of Paris Museum of Modern Art (Vingt années de sueur/Twenty Years of Sweat).  He also produced his first monumental work, The Monument to the Last Cigarette in Denmark.  After 1980, the artist’s work took a decisive turn; he used traditional materials for sculpture, bronze, stone, and marble, and created pieces with small and medium dimensions which he then assembled as monumental constructions.  La Haute ivresse is an expression of this:  a black marble torso, placed on a pallet, decked out with a bronze hat.  Dietman won the Grand Prix National de la Sculpture in 1988.

Nadine Labedade