With a practice spanning painting, photography, sculpture, and fashion, Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer produces provocative artworks and installations that subvert the zeitgeist of contemporary pop culture.Read More
Urs Fischer began his career studying photography at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich. He continued his education at De Ateliers institute in Amsterdam (1991—1993), and as an artist in residence at Delfina Studios in London (2000).
Fischer developed his reputation through provocative, iconic early works such as Untitled (Lamp/Bear) (2005–2006), Lemon Hand (2006), and You (2007). His diverse oeuvre is considered to be influenced by movements such as Surrealism, Pop Art, and Neo-Dada, often combined with anti-art or anti-authoritarian gestures.
Utilising a wide range of materials and processes across sculpture, painting, and photography, Fischer experiments with juxtaposition, material degradation, the passage of time, and distortions of scale and colour to navigate temporal, absurd, and macabre dimensions of pop and contemporary culture.
Food is frequently explored in Fischer's practice both as medium and subject, offered in various forms of excess and states of decay. Alluding to traditions in still life, such as memento mori, food is used in Fischer's work for its associations with life. Untitled (Bread House) (2004–2005) is a life-size Swiss-style chalet constructed from loaves of bread, expanding foam, and wood, complete with rug-lined floors. Evocative of a dystopian fairytale, the structure is left to decay over time.
Fischer's Problem Paintings series (2011—ongoing) presents large-scale portraits of vintage headshots, the faces of their subjects obscured with images of objects such as fruit, vegetables, or hardware. Reminiscent of Andy Warhol's celebrity portraits, the Problem Paintings continue Fischer's interrogation of the legacy and transience of pop culture with exuberant, absurd theatricality.
Fischer is also known for his wax sculptures: imposing candles that are lit over the course of an exhibition and eventually reduced to irregular wax forms, later to be recast into further sculptures in cyclical fashion. What if the Phone Rings (2003) consisted of three life-size candles in the shape of nude women. The installation Untitled (2011) featured a life-size wax candle rendition of Giambologna's 16th-century sculpture The Abduction of the Sabine Women, along with a wax candle effigy of Fischer's friend, the artist Rudolf Stingel, gazing contemplatively at an assortment of seven chairs. Operating as symbolically destructive anti-art gestures, Fischer's wax figures examine ideas of permanence, chance, and mortality on a monumental scale, and recognise the time-based, performative aspect of experiencing art.
Urs Fischer has collaborated with major global fashion labels to produce goods that embody his Dada-esque take on pop culture and the everyday. In 2016, Fischer collaborated with American skate and lifestyle brand Supreme to design three skateboard decks titled Toasted, Baked, and Fried (2016).
In 2019, Fischer was selected by Louis Vuitton as one of six artists to redesign their signature Capucines bag as part of their Artycapucines capsule, which he adorned with realistic fruit and food sculptures. For Louis Vuitton x Urs Fischer (2021), the artist designed a capsule collection for the brand featuring his hand-drawn, distorted redesigns of the 'LV' monogram and symbols.
Since the mid-1990s, Urs Fischer has shown extensively in significant events, museums, and venues worldwide, including Manifesta 3, Ljubljana (2000); Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2000); Venice Biennale (2003, 2007, 2011); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2004); Whitney Biennial, New York (2006); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006, 2007); New Museum, New York (2009); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2013); Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2013); Guggenheim Bilbao (2013); Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2013); Gwangju Biennale (2014); Ullens Center for Contemporary Arts, Beijing (2015); The Met Breuer, New York (2016); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016).
Selected solo exhibitions by Urs Fischer include Leo, Gagosian, Paris (2019); ERROR, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, Connecticut (2019); Sōtatsu, Gagosian, New York (2018); The Public & the Private, Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2017); and Battito di Ciglia, Massimo de Carlo, Milan (2016).
Selected group exhibitions include The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2021); La rivoluzione siamo noi: Collezionismo italiano contemporaneo, XNL Piacenza Contemporeana, Piacenza (2020); and Third Dimension: Works from the Brant Foundation, The Brant Foundation, New York (2019).
Urs Fischer's work is held in public and private art collections internationally, including in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
On Ocula, the artist is represented by Gagosian, Sadie Coles HQ, and The Modern Institute. Recent exhibitions include __The Intelligence of Nature (2021) at Sadie Coles, and Leo, Crushed, Cast, Constructed: Sculpture by John Chamberlain (2019), Urs Fischer, and Charles Ray (2020), and Dasha (2018) at Gagosian.
Urs Fischer's website can be found here and his Instagram can be found here.
Misong Kim | Ocula | 2021