Erik Dietman


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Swedish sculptor, born in Jönköping. Self-taught as an artist, in 1959 he left Sweden and his family to escape military service and settled in Paris where he lived for the rest of his life. There he discovered Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus and he especially admired Picabia, who became a kind of mentor from beyond the grave. After a period of Neo-Dada objects, he began work with more conventional materials in 1978. The resulting sculpture is both darkly humorous and beautifully crafted, mixing styles, imagery, and materials. L'Art mol et raide (1985–6, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon) includes forty-one skulls on low concrete bases, all with short iron bars sprouting from the top. Dispersed among them are bronze casts of animals. All the skulls appear to stare at a small square, perhaps some kind of parody of Minimal art. Dietman's sense of the body as a source for grim comedy extended to his own bulky frame, which he sometimes displayed nearly naked on his exhibition invitations. Anne Rochette described him as a ‘Rabelaisian artist, one of the rare sculptors to make work that is both consequential and funny’.

Further Reading

A. Rochette, ‘Comedic Mass’, Art in America (December 1994)

Subjects: Art.

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