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 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.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019, 6:30pm
Journalist and curator Judith Benhamou-Huet will lead a tour of the exhibition Urs Fischer: Leo at Gagosian, Paris. In Fischer’s work, the processes of material creation and destruction are often explored through the use of impermanent materials. Fischer’s candle sculptures, which he began to make in the early 2000s, exemplify this relationship. The artist’s newest candle portrait, Leo (George & Irmelin) (2019), depicts Leonardo DiCaprio with his parents, George DiCaprio and Irmelin Indenbirken. As with all of Fischer’s candle sculptures, Leo (George & Irmelin) will melt slowly over the course of the exhibition, its original composition transmuted into a form dictated by the wayward laws of physics. To attend the free event, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
Installation view, Urs Fischer: Leo, Gagosian, Paris, October 14–December 20, 2019. Artwork © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019
December 5–8, 2019, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 with modern and contemporary artworks by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, John Chamberlain, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Adam McEwen, Joan Mitchell, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Pablo Picasso, Rudolf Polanszky, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others.
Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York
The Extreme Present
Opening reception: Tuesday, December 3, 5–8pm
December 4–8, 2019
Moore Building, Miami
Gagosian is pleased to announce The Extreme Present, the fifth in a series of annual exhibitions at the Moore Building in the Miami Design District during Art Basel Miami Beach, presented by Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch. The Extreme Present will explore artists’ reactions to the conditions of our accelerating and increasingly complex world. The title is inspired by The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present, a book by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, published in 2015. Their provocative thesis addresses the rapidly evolving digital era, half a century after Marshall McLuhan’s groundbreaking study on technology’s influence on culture, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, in which he coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” Works in this exhibition explore concepts of media, communication, togetherness, and isolation.
The Extreme Present
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
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