Cologne’s Shortest Exhibition Ever

Cologne’s Shortest Exhibition Ever

was entitled “bis das Ei hartgekocht ist” (Until the Egg is Hard-Boiled) and took place on September 12, 1963 at Galerie Zwirner at Kolumbakirchhof 2 (by Günter Herzog)

Daniel Spoerri, the artist who provided the works, explained the exhibition in his very rare invitation—so rare that even ZADIK did not receive one—as follows: “Well, when I drove to Cologne around ten days ago in my small van with bad brakes to pick up the snare-pictures at the former Galerie Dumont, which were returned to me at their liquidation via the law firm Dr. Rudolf Boden – Dr. Walter Klonz – Dr. Walter Oppenhoff – Ellen Andrea – Klaus Mathy – Dr. Dieter Schneider – Peter Sambuc, after they had bought them around two years ago, but instead visited my friend André Thomkins in Essen, because I hadn’t seen him in so long, so I arrived five minutes too late at the Pressehaus, because it was a Friday evening, and Saturday and Sunday are holidays, which is why I couldn’t take them with me, especially since they were already packed away in a huge box that didn’t have any room. I thus invite you to view the ten pictures on Sept. 12, 1963 at Galerie Zwirner, Kolumba Kirchhof, Cologne, Tel. 237200, at precisely 8 pm, because I will be there, because that’s where we have to unpack the crate, to show the pictures seven minutes until the egg is hard-boiled and I can take the rest back to Paris, Daniel Spoerri”.

Entweder gibt hier Rudolf Zwirner am 12.9.1963 gegen 20.00 Uhr ein Ei in einen Wasserkocher und eröffnet damit Kölns kürzeste Ausstellung - oder er holt das längst erkaltete Ei wieder heraus. Foto: ©Jaschinski und Dreger; ZADIK, A 2, X, 123

This is either the moment where Rudolf Zwirner puts the egg into the hot water and thereby officially opens the exhibition – or he is taking out the long cooled down egg. Picture: ©Jaschinski and Dreger; ZADIK, A 2, X, 123

In a conversation with the Wuppertal art collector Stella Baum for a contribution to the magazine Kunstforum International, Rudolf Zwirner recalls this exhibition, even shortening it by three minutes. “It lasted just as long as it took to hard-boil an egg, four minutes. The audience stood interested in the empty gallery and stared at the empty walls. Then a door opened, and the pictures were brought in, the delivery team hung them up. Now Spoerri placed the egg in the boiling water and set the clock. After four minutes, the egg was done, and the deliverymen took down the art and returned it to the vehicle. We sold six paintings in just four minutes! One collector who wasn’t able to get a good enough look ran out and had one picture unpacked again. To keep the people from leaving after just four minutes, there was a meal, for which Spoerri had organized all sorts of things that aren’t usually available here: flies, worms, snakes, and bugs preserved in oil in small cans from China. He mixed everything together and made omelets. Then we all drank an Underberg.”

Literature: “Rudolf Zwirner in Stella Baum: Die frühen Jahre. Gespräche mit Galeristen,” Kunstforum International 104 (November/December 1989), 240.

Top picture: Daniel Spoerri, Hahns Abendmahl (Hahn’s supper), 1964, various objects mounted on wood, 200 x 200 x 38 cm, Collection mumok, Wien / former Collection Hahn, Köln, Picture: mumok