(German/Swiss, 1930–1998) was an important artist of the second half of the 20th century, best known for his books, sculptures, installations, and use of food. Born in Hanover, Roth split his early childhood years between Switzerland and Germany, before settling in Berlin in 1947. He moved to Iceland in 1957, isolating himself physically and psychologically from the artistic centers in Europe and New York. Some of his earliest work incorporated rearranged, found texts into books and new forms, including Literaturwurst
(1961), a sausage casing stuffed with spices, recipes, and newspaper cuttings. He contributed to An Anecdoted Topography of Chance
(1962), an artist’s book of anecdotes, associations, and memories relating to everyday objects, compiled by his friend Daniel Spoerri
(Swiss, b. 1930). Although technically predating the Fluxus movement, this book anticipated many of the philosophical notions that would underpin the nascent artistic movement and influence Roth’s oeuvre.
Blurring the line between process and product, Roth embraced accident, mutation, and mutability in his work. Famous for his use of biodegradable materials, his first exhibition in the United States, Staple Cheese: A Race
(1970), displayed pictures made of cheese with measuring lines to track their progress as they slid down the gallery wall. At another series of shows, Roth created manufacturing instructions, allowing visitors to produce their own books, or baked goods. In his later career, Roth achieved widespread acclaim, representing Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 1992, and was featured in a retrospective at the MoMA. He collaborated with his son, Björn Roth
(German, b. 1961), on many of his later works. Roth died in 1998 in Basel, Switzerland.