Urs Fischer’s large–scale installations and sculptures posit genres traditionally evoked in painting—such as portraits, landscapes, nudes, and still lifes—in a profusion of rich and often impermanent sculptural materials. Whether utilizing foodstuffs (Bread House, 2004) or more self–destructive mediums, such as soft wax that simply melts away, Fischer mines the endless possibilities of a particular material to introduce an additional dimension into the work: that of time. Imbued with their own mortality, his sculptures and installations cultivate the experiential function of art. Fischer incorporates elements of performance and Pop art to create an oeuvre that is distinctly current, and as witty as it is macabre.
Urs Fischer was born in 1973 in Zürich, Switzerland. He studied at the Delfina Studio Trust, London; Visited de Ateliers, Amsterdam; and Schule für Gestaltung, Zürich. Fischer’s work is included in many important public and private collections worldwide. Selected solo exhibitions include “Without a Fist—Like a Bird,” Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2000); “The Membrane—and why I don’t mind bad–mooded People,” Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2000); “What should an Owl do with a Fork,” Santa Monica Museum of Art, California (2002); “Kir Royal,” Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland (2004); “Not My House Not My Fire,” Espace 315, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2004);
“Feige, Nuss, und Birne,” Gruppe Österreichische Guggenheim, Vienna (2004); “Werke aus der Friedrich Christian Flick Collection im Hamburger Bahnhof,” Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2005, traveled to Camden Arts Centre, London); “Paris 1919,” Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); “Mary Poppins,” Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Texas (2006); “Marguerite de Ponty,” New Museum, New York (2009–10); “Oscar the Grouch,” Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Connecticut (2010–11); “Skinny Sunrise,” Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2013); “Madame Fisscher,” Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2013); “YES,” DESTE Project Space Slaughterhouse, Greece (2013); “Untitled,” Lever House Art Collection, New York (2014); “Small Axe,” Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); and “Mon cher…,” Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, France (2016). Fischer’s work was included in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 editions of the Biennale di Venezia. Fischer currently lives and works in New York.
Fischer’s subversive approach to art is often considered to be influenced by anti-art movements like Neo-Dada, Lost Art, or the Situationist International. Since Fischer began showing his work, in the mid-nineteen-nineties, in Europe, he has produced an enormous number of objects, drawings, collages, and room-size installations.
In Untitled (Bread House) (2004-2005), Fischer constructed a Swiss style chalet out of loaves of bread. His Bad Timing, Lamb Chop! (2004-2005), displays a giant wooden chair (actually cast aluminum) intersecting a half empty packet of cigarettes dramatically increased in scale.
Between 2005 and 2006, he created Untitled (Lamp/Bear), an edition of three 23-foot-tall, 20-ton, bronze bears (two are yellow, the third is blue) intersected with generic functional lamps that appear to spring out of their heads; in 2011, one of the pieces was displayed for five months at Seagram Building’s plaza before being auctioned at Christie’s. The blue version was installed in the Ruth Simmons Quad, at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in June 2016.
For his 2007 show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York, Fischer excavated the gallery’s main room, bringing in contractors to dig an eight-foot hole where the floor had been, and calling the result You. In Death of a Moment (2007), two entire walls are equipped with floor-to-ceiling mirrors and set in motion by a hydraulic system, to create the surreal effect of a room in flux, morphing in shape and size.
In 2016, Fischer created an eight fool tall wax sculpture of artist and director Julian Schnabel. The piece was also a candle and the wax slowly melted when burned.
Fischer has his own publishing imprint, Kiito-San, whose books are distributed by DAP and Buchhandlung Walther König. The imprint has published exhibition catalogues by Fischer as well as books on the work of Spencer Sweeney, Peter Regli, and Darren Bader. In 2015 Kiito-San released a cookbook called Cooking for Artists, written by Mina Stone, who cooks lunch at Fischer’s studio.cFischer’s current studio occupies a large warehouse in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, near the waterfront.