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.
October 14–December 20, 2019
January 11–February 9, 2019
Extended through December 15, 2018
September 12–December 15, 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
Urs Fischer: Leo
Journalist and curator Judith Benhamou-Huet leads a tour of the exhibition Urs Fischer: Leo at Gagosian, Paris.
Urs Fischer and choreographer Madeline Hollander speak with novelist Natasha Stagg about the ways in which choreographic experimentation and an interest in our ability to project emotion onto objects led to the one-of-a-kind project PLAY.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
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: Sotatsu
Urs Fischer and Francesco Bonami sat down with the Gagosian Quarterly to discuss Sōtatsu, a new painting in nine parts.
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.
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.
Visions of the Self
Rembrandt and Now
Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 6:30–8:30pm
Kenwood House, London
In the interest of public health, this event has been postponed until further notice.
Gagosian is pleased to host a drinks reception to celebrate the release of Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now, published on the occasion of the recent eponymous exhibition at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Organized in partnership with English Heritage, the exhibition places Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665) in dialogue with self-portraits by Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucian Freud, and Pablo Picasso, as well as leading contemporary artists such as Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Urs Fischer, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Giuseppe Penone, Richard Prince, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, and Rudolf Stingel, among others. The catalogue includes an introduction by Wendy Monkhouse, senior curator at English Heritage, and a text by art historian David Freedberg. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now (London: Gagosian, 2020)
Urs Fischer and Francesco Bonami on Piero Manzoni
Saturday, March 7, 2020, 5–7pm
The Greene Space, New York
This event has been postponed. The new date will be announced shortly.
Gagosian will host a conversation on Piero Manzoni with Urs Fischer and curator Francesco Bonami to celebrate the English-language release of Flaminio Gualdoni’s biography of the iconic Italian Conceptual artist, published by the gallery. Manzoni’s brief career was one of the most radically inventive of the twentieth century, producing a body of work that continues to challenge definitions of artistic sovereignty and virtuosity. To attend the free event, RSVP to email@example.com. Space is limited.
Piero Manzoni devours an “edible sculpture,” Copenhagen, 1960. Artwork © 2020 Fondazione Piero Manzoni, Milan/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome. Photo: courtesy Fondazione Piero Manzoni
Frieze Los Angeles 2020
How to Shrink L.A.
February 14–16, 2020, booth C06
Paramount Picture Studios, Los Angeles
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Frieze Los Angeles 2020. Taking Los Angeles’s system of highways as a literal and figurative backdrop, the selection includes Richard Prince’s full-scale car sculpture Untitled (2008) and Chris Burden’s ominously oversize L.A.P.D. Uniform (1993). The booth also includes work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, Theaster Gates, Piero Golia, Alex Israel, Sally Mann, Adam McEwen, Cady Noland, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Robert Therrien, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and others.
Chris Burden, How to Shrink L.A., 1999 © 2020 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Works from the Brant Foundation
Through September 3, 2020
Brant Foundation, New York
Bringing together more than twenty artists integral to the Brant Foundation’s collection, this exhibition offers a glimpse into the multifaceted practices of artists whose work Peter M. Brant has collected over the past fifty years. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Urs Fischer, Mike Kelley, Adam McEwen, Richard Prince, Andy Warhol, and Franz West is included.
Installation view, Third Dimension: Works from the Brant Foundation, Brant Foundation, New York, November 13, 2019–September 3, 2020. Artwork, front to back: © Urs Fischer, © Dan Flavin
The Lyrical and the Prosaic
Aïshti Foundation, Jal el Dib, Lebanon
Aïshti Foundation presents a solo exhibition by Urs Fischer.
Artwork © Urs Fischer
May 13–September 13, 2019
Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut
The Brant Foundation celebrates its tenth anniversary at its Greenwich, Connecticut, space with an exhibition by Urs Fischer, the first artist to have had a solo show at the center in 2010. This exhibition features some of the artist’s most notable large-scale sculptures alongside paintings and other highlights from the Brant Collections.
Installation view, Urs Fischer: Errors, Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut, May 13–October 1, 2019 © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger
How to See [What Isn’t There]
September 9, 2018–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