“Since my first reading I have been convinced that An Anecdoted Topography of Chance is one of the great books of the century, a comic masterpiece that touches significantly on many areas of human thought. It is a maquette for a realisation of the dream that human intelligence might take any fragment of the world and reconstruct the universe from the evidence it provides.”
Richard Hamilton in The Spectator
An Anecdoted Topography of Chance is now acknowledged as the most important, and most entertaining “Artists’ Book” of the post-war period, and this edition is the definitive appearance of a unique collaborative work by four artists associated with various avant-garde art movements, including Fluxus and Nouveau Réalisme.
What is the Topography? Hard to explain an idea so simple yet so brilliantly executed. Following a rambling conversation with his dear friend Robert Filliou, Daniel Spoerri one day mapped the objects lying at random on a table in his room, adding a rigorously scientific description of each. These objects subsequently evoked associations, memories, anecdotes, not only from the original author, but from his friends as well: a beguiling creation was born, and each time a new edition of the book appeared it grew larger and more elaborate. Many of the principal participants in Fluxus make an appearance, and texts by Higgins, Jouffroy, Kaprow, Restany and Tinguely are included, among others. It is a novel of digressions in the manner of Tristram Shandy, an archaeological game, a poem to the arbitrary, an encyclopaedia, a cabinet of wonders, but above all else, it is a celebration of friendship and creativity.
The Topography both personifies and pre-dates the spirit of the Fluxus movement, and constitutes one of the strangest and most compelling insights into the artist’s life. From out of the banal detritus of the everyday a virtual autobiography emerges: of four perceptive, eloquent and engaging members of the human species.