People seem to fear art. Art has always been a word for this thing that can’t be rationalized; when you see or hear something that you struggle to explain. But that’s its strength, of course, that’s what the word “art” is for.
Urs Fischer mines the potential of materials—from clay, steel, and paint to bread, dirt, and produce—to create works that disorient and bewilder. Through scale distortions, illusion, and the juxtaposition of common objects, his sculptures, paintings, photographs, and large-scale installations explore themes of perception and representation while maintaining a witty irreverence and mordant humor.
Fischer began his artistic career studying photography at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich. He later lived in London and Los Angeles, and shared a studio with Rudolf Stingel in both Berlin and New York. Themes of absence and presence, as well as the processes of art production, pervade his work, in which Fischer makes use of tables, chairs, shadows, and light to explore distortion and anthropomorphism. In Stuhl mit (1995–2001), bulbous, fabric-covered legs merge with a wooden chair, and in Studies for chairs for individual seating positions (1993), the absence of a human body is suggested by a sawdust and rubber mold draped over the furniture. Food is also a major element in Fischer’s work. Rotting, melting, and crumbling, and placed in juxtaposition with permanent materials like metal, bricks, and mortar, it serves as a memento mori; Rotten Foundation (1998) comprises a brick structure built on a foundation of rotting produce; Untitled (Bread House) (2004–05), a Swiss chalet constructed entirely of loaves of bread, was left to be eaten by parakeets; and in the Problem Paintings (2011–), portraits mounted on aluminum panels are obscured by images of eggs, peppers, and kiwis, as well as twisted bolts and half-smoked cigarettes.
In 2009 Fischer had his first large-scale solo presentation in an American museum, at New York’s New Museum; the exhibition featured a series of immersive installations and hallucinatory environments including cityscapes and mirrored labyrinths. At the Venice Biennale in 2011, his wax copy of Giambologna’s late-sixteenth-century sculpture Rape of the Sabine Women slowly melted, looming over another candle depicting an ordinary man wearing glasses and a sport coat. The candle works, which Fischer has produced since 2001, attest to his mastery of entropy, as well as his simultaneous incorporation and rejection of tradition.
Fischer had his first solo show with Gagosian in 2012. The following year for his exhibition Yes at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA Los Angeles, 1,400 volunteers produced unfired clay sculptures in the weeks leading up to the exhibition. As soon as Fischer has accomplished one material feat, he embarks on another, in ways that are complicated and playful, messy and perfected.
September 12–November 3, 2018
Davies Street, London
PLAY with choreography by Madeline Hollander
September 6–October 13, 2018
West 21st Street, New York
May 15–June 23, 2018
May 3–June 23, 2018
980 Madison Avenue, New York
March 20–May 13, 2017
October 21–December 23, 2016
Misunderstandings in the Quest for the Universal
March 1–April 23, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York
September 15–October 17, 2015
From the Quarterly
Who is choreographing whom?
PLAY, currently on view at Gagosian on West 21st Street in New York, is a work by Urs Fischer in which nine office chairs move through the gallery and interact with visitors. Artist and choreographer Madeline Hollander worked with Fischer and a team of programmers and animators to create various gestures, movements, and behavior sequences for the chairs. Gagosian’s Angela Brown sat down to talk with Hollander about this process.
Urs Fischer: Things
In midtown Manhattan, a new sculpture by Urs Fischer, entitled Things, was debuted in May 2018. Fischer and international curator, Francesco Bonami, discuss this unique exhibition with the Gagosian Quarterly.
Urs Fischer: Sotatsu
Urs Fischer and Francesco Bonami sat down with the Gagosian Quarterly to discuss Sōtatsu, a new painting in nine parts.
The Bigger Picture
Derek Blasberg speaks with Diane Brown, president and founder of RxArt, and with contributing artists Dan Colen, Urs Fischer, and Jeff Koons about the transformative power of visual art.
Mina Stone and Urs Fischer: Cooking for Artists
For Printed Matter’s 2015 LA Art Book Fair, artist Urs Fischer and chef Mina Stone hosted an installation of a kitchen within Gagosian’s booth. Here is a recap of the fair.
Fairs, Events & Announcements
June 14–17, 2018
Messe Basel, booth B11
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel 2018, presenting works by modern and contemporary artists including Georg Baselitz, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Jennifer Guidi, Andreas Gursky, Neil Jenney, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Takashi Murakami, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, and Tom Wesselmann. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth go to www.artsy.net. To purchase tickets to attend the fair go to www.artbasel.com.
Georg Baselitz, Frau am Strand (Woman on the Beach), 1981 © Georg Baselitz 2018
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 7–10, 2017, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2017, presenting a selection of works by modern and contemporary artists including:
Richard Artschwager, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Urs Fischer, Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel, Neil Jenney, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Adam McEwen, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Frank Stella, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Robert Therrien, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Christopher Wool.
Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #11, 1973 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York
How to See [What Isn’t There]
Through March 17, 2019
Langen Foundation, Neuss, Germany
How to See [What Isn’t There] brings together works from the Burger Collection Hong Kong by thirty-two artists from around the world. The exhibition features forty-five works including sculpture, installation, painting, photography, video, VR, and performance. The artists and works that have been selected for this exhibition highlight and blur the lines between presence and absence. Work by Urs Fischer and Douglas Gordon is included.
Urs Fischer, Mr. Flosky, 2001–02 © Urs Fischer
Opened August 18, 2018
Marciano Foundation, Los Angeles
Mad World brings together works from the Marciano collection that reflect the rampant absurdities of contemporary life. Many works address the overwhelming accumulation of information, images, and ideas emanating from our phones, computers, billboards, televisions, and radios. Work by Roe Ethridge, Urs Fischer, and Nate Lowman is included.
Urs Fischer, Green Solace, 16 Handles, Red Solace, 2017 © Urs Fischer. Photo: Mats Nordman
Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile
October 4, 2018–January 6, 2019
GAMeC — Galleria d’Arte Moderna et Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy
Black Hole: Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile is the first exhibition in an ambitious three-year research program dedicated to the theme of matter. Activating a dialogue with the history of scientific and technological discoveries, and investigating the development of aesthetics theories, Black Hole showcases the work of artists who have explored the material element’s most intrinsic significance, where the actual concept of matter shatters to open up a more profound idea of matter as an original element, as the primordial substance that constitutes everything. Work by Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Giacometti, Anselm Kiefer, and Piero Manzoni is included.
Urs Fischer in
April 20–May 7, 2018
Modern Institute, Glasgow
Glasgow International draws on the city’s strengths as a vibrant and distinctive center of artistic production and display. The festival combines commissions and exhibitions by artists living both locally and internationally, in large-scale and familiar public venues as well as smaller, less conventional sites. Work by Urs Fischer will be included.
Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo courtesy the artist