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.
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
Misunderstandings in the Quest for the Universal
March 1–April 23, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York
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.
Louis Vuitton X
June 28–September 15, 2019
Louis Vuitton X, Beverly Hills
Louis Vuitton X celebrates the fashion house’s 160-year history of artistic collaborations and marks the world premiere of the Artycapucines Collection. The line includes limited-edition reinterpretations of the label’s iconic Capucines bag by six artists including Urs Fischer, Alex Israel, and Jonas Wood. The exhibition also brings together a collection of early twentieth-century special-order trunks, art deco perfume bottles, iconic Monogram bags reworked by artists such as Frank Gehry and Cindy Sherman, and original collaborations by artists such as Richard Prince.
Jonas Wood’s limited-edition Louis Vuitton Artycapucines bag
Art Basel 2019
June 13–16, 2019, booth C9
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Urs Fischer, Ellen Gallagher, Alberto Giacometti, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jeff Koons, Man Ray, Albert Oehlen, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West, among others.
Jeff Koons, Sacred Heart (Magenta/Gold), 1994–2007 © Jeff Koons
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665). The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact email@example.com.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Through October 1, 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
August 18, 2018–January 14, 2019
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.
Installation view, Black Hole: Arte e matericità tra informe et invisibile, GAMeC—Galleria d’Arte Moderna et Contemporanea di Bergamo, Italy, October 4, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork, left to right: Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini-Collezione Burri, Città di Castello © 2018 SIAE; © Piero Manzoni/2018 SIAE. Photo: Antonio Maniscalco