Gagosian Quarterly

May 29, 2020


Five Books: Urs Fischer

In this series we invite artists and writers to tell us about works of art, literature, film, or music that have influenced their work or are at the forefront of their minds today. Here Urs Fischer talks about reading during the recent lockdown, sharing five books—both fiction and nonfiction—that he has turned to while in self-isolation.

Urs Fischer, Cioran Handrail, 2006 (front, detail), and A Place Called Novosibirsk, 2004 (back) © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger

Urs Fischer, Cioran Handrail, 2006 (front, detail), and A Place Called Novosibirsk, 2004 (back) © Urs Fischer. Photo: Stefan Altenburger

Urs Fischer

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.

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I’ve been isolating with my family in Los Angeles. It’s great, but at times I envy people without children during the lockdown. I’ve been reading when I can, and I’ve realized that I turn to different books for different needs—sometimes to escape, and at other times it feels comforting to read something that illustrates one’s darkest moods. Turning to the past can provide solace and put time into perspective.

Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils

by David Farrier

It’s difficult to grasp the unbelievably short timeframe in which humans have made a deep mark on this planet in relation to everything that occurred before we arrived. We are story driven. That makes us intelligent and absolutely incapable of understanding any broader context at the same time. If you think about it, we eat stuff that we would not even feed to our pets. The amount of stuff we consume or need on a daily basis is insane.

Five Books: Urs Fischer

David Farrier, Footprints: In Search of Future Fossils (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020)

The Terminal Beach 

by J.G. Ballard

Ballard’s short stories, whose protagonists mostly struggle to embrace a violently changed world, were good company at the beginning of this new lockdown reality as I tried to make sense of what is taking place.

Five Books: Urs Fischer

J.G. Ballard, The Terminal Beach (1964; New York: Penguin, 1974)

A Month in Siena 

by Hisham Matar

A very inviting journey into art, a viewer’s mind, and how each makes the other into more than the sum of its parts. Matar’s book, about his monthlong trip to Siena, where he immersed himself in paintings that had fascinated him since his late teens—and about how they are intertwined with his own life history—left me marveling about our love for art.

Five Books: Urs Fischer

Hisham Matar, A Month in Siena (New York: Random House, 2019)

Mouthful of Birds

by Samanta Schweblin

The Argentinian novelist’s short stories say the unsayable. The strong, visceral imagery is so powerful; each story resonates with me as if it were my own dreams. As a visual artist, I’m envious of the immaterial nature of good stories, the images that they create in one’s mind.

Five Books: Urs Fischer

Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds, trans. Megan McDowell (New York: Riverhead Books, 2019)

All Gall Is Divided

by E. M. Cioran

The Romanian-French philosopher Emil Cioran makes for a good quarantine companion. I’ve been dipping into his collections of aphorisms for many years. His writings make my own agony feel like a happy place.

Five Books: Urs Fischer

E. M. Cioran, All Gall Is Divided: The Aphorisms of a Legendary Iconoclast, trans. Richard Howard (1952; New York: Arcade Publishing, 2019)

Installation view of Urs Fischer’s Untitled (2011) in the exhibition Ouverture, Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection, Paris, 2021. Artwork © Urs Fischer, courtesy Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier. Photo: Stefan Altenburger

Bourse de Commerce

William Middleton traces the development of the new institution, examining the collaboration between the collector François Pinault and the architect Tadao Ando in revitalizing the historic space. Middleton also speaks with artists Tatiana Trouvé and Albert Oehlen about Pinault’s passion as a collector, and with the Bouroullec brothers, who created design features for the interiors and exteriors of the museum.

Augurs of Spring

Augurs of Spring

As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.

Installation view, Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London, June 15–July 31, 2020

Uncanny Delights: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray

Catalyzed by the exhibition Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain, Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray, Alice Godwin examines the legacy and development of a Surrealist ethos in selected works from three contemporary sculptors.

Installation view, Urs Fischer: The Lyrical and the Prosaic, Aïshti Foundation, Beirut, October 20, 2019–October 31, 2020.

Urs Fischer: Lives of Forms

In his introduction to the catalogue for Urs Fischer’s exhibition The Lyrical and the Prosaic, at the Aïshti Foundation in Beirut, curator Massimiliano Gioni traces the material and conceptual tensions that reverberate throughout the artist’s paintings, sculptures, installations, and interventions.

Urs Fischer, A–Z, 2019, a sculpture of a pear and an apple.

Fruit and Vegetables: Francesco Bonami on Urs Fischer

Fruit and vegetables are a recurring motif in Urs Fischer’s visual vocabulary, introducing the dimension of time while elaborating on the art historical tradition of the vanitas. Here, curator Francesco Bonami traces this thread through the artist’s sculptures and paintings of the past two decades.

Installation video of Urs Fischer's exhibition, Leo. A painting of an eye and a sculpture of three humans.

Urs Fischer: Leo

Journalist and curator Judith Benhamou-Huet leads a tour of the exhibition Urs Fischer: Leo at Gagosian, Paris.

Installation view, Urs Fischer: PLAY with choreography by Madeline Hollander, Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, September 6–October 13, 2018.


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.

Still from video Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

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

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?

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: Sotatsu

Urs Fischer and Francesco Bonami sat down with the Gagosian Quarterly to discuss Sōtatsu, a new painting in nine parts.

Urs Fischer: Things

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.