13 September 2012

Found in the back of a National Geographic issue from August 2012

"P.S. It might interest you to know the story of the suitcase top. I was invited by an awful modernist architect to participate in an exhibition he had arranged at his house in Cologne… A few years ago, when I was going around Europe exhibiting the Edition MAT (multiplied art objects) I always wanted to be able to carry all the artists in one suitcase. Once I even asked some of them to make their work small enough to fit into a suitcase. So on this occasion… I took up the idea again and I asked ARMAN, CÉSAR, DESCHAMPS, DUFRÊNE, HAINS, RAYSSE, NIKI DE ST.-PHALLE, TINGUELY, and DE LA VILLEGLÉ to participate with me in a suitcase exhibition. I made use of an old suitcase of mine that I was then using as a kind of table; the snare-picture that you bought is the top of this suitcase. By chance, a young gallery owner from Cologne—HARO LAUHUS—came to see the week I was working on the suitcase, and proposed an exhibition at his gallery, to follow the first performance at the architect's house.
So I went. BOB RAUSCHENBERG, who was at the time also in Paris, offered to participate in the exhibit, then said the only thing he'd like to do was furnish a padlock to lock the suitcase with, and to throw the key away. And I did it. It was rather difficult to cross the Franco-German border with my locked suitcase, but I succeeded in explaining to the customs officials that I was an illusionist, and that I couldn't open the suitcase without ruining my whole act—and from the way the top of the suitcase looked, they were ready to believe me… I arrived, with my suitcase, at the house of the architect as scheduled (June 10, 1961). About 200 people were there, including DAVID TUDOR. The architect asked me not to take more than ten minutes, but I think the whole performance lasted about an hour and a half. First I had to saw the padlock, then I hung all the things on the wall, explaining irrelevant things about each artist and his work. NIKI had given me sugar candy to distribute to the public, TINGUELY asked me to blow soap bubbles, GHÉRASIM LUCA made a poem that I handed out, DUFRÊNE screamed a few lettrist poems on a tape, we shot at one of NIKI's pictures, two sculptures of TINGUELY had to be mounted together (they were attached to the suitcase), and so on. Anyway, I succeeded in what I had to do… Next evening was the vernissage at the gallery… And that's the story about the Blue GILLETTE Blade.

P.P.S. For the sake of exactness, I inform you that ROBERT FILLIOU has since made an even smaller exhibit. He carries small "works of art" in his cap, over his head, through the streets. He calls cap and contents "The Legitimate Gallery."d
d. This Legitimate Gallery also has a history. The idea was born during a tumultuous evening at the sumptuous seaside villa of AAGARD ANDERSEN near Helsingør where we drank a great deal, and where FILLIOU insulted MESDAMES ANDERSEN and HALLING KOCH, for which I don't know if he has  been pardoned. In any case, he got the idea of starting a wheelbarrow gallery in Paris, where he was returning soon because of his expulsion from Denmark. Everybody present—TINGUELY, NIKI DE ST.-PHALLE, ADDI AND TUT KOEPKE, the ANDERSENS and his wife, the HALLING KOCHS, the USSINGS and I—was bowled over by the idea and, convulsed with laughter, made preposterous suggestions, which FILLIOU took seriously. And to prove to us that he was serious, the following day he sent TINGUELY this letter:

        Dear TINGUELY,
    Pursuant to our conversation of last evening, I confirm that the vernissage of The Legitimate Gallery will take place during the month of October (or as soon as possible) with an exhibition of your work. The Legitimate Gallery is itinerant. It consists of a wheelbarrow or pushcart, according to need. It travels (legitimately) through the streets, in the highest creative tradition. Upon receipts of your works, I promise to maintain them in good condition, respect your prices, and to follow an itinerary to be worked out with you. My commission will consist of the usual 33 percent.
On your part, you will contribute to the launching of the gallery by sending out invitations to your exhibition, and taking care of your publicity (press, television, collectors).
The Legitimate Gallery will open as soon as legal formalities are arranged. If the license surpasses my means, you will be expected to advance me the money, to be deducted from my commission.
In exchange for your assistance in launching the gallery, I promise to exhibit your "legitimate works" whenever you express the desire, in Paris as well saw in the provinces and abroad (I intend to take the gallery to such cities as Brasilia, Tokyo, New York, Moscow, Peking, etc.), respecting, of course, contracts with other artists (NIKI DE ST.-PHALLE and DANIEL SPOERRI have already given their consent). Your confirmation of receipt of this letter will serve as our bond of agreement.
So long,
To conclude the history of the gallery: FILLIOU was not able to get a license from the city of Paris, so he decided to reduce the dimensions of The Legitimate Gallery and carry it around on his head without a license. Thus The Legitimate Gallery turned out to be an illegitimate gallery."

— Daniel Spoerri, An Anecdoted Topography of Chance, p. 168-170

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