For his first large-scale solo presentation in an American museum, Urs Fischer has taken over all three of the New Museum’s gallery floors to create a series of immersive installations and hallucinatory environments.
The exhibition “Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty” is the culmination of four years of work. Neither a traditional survey nor a retrospective, the exhibition features new productions and iconic works combined to compose a series of gigantic still lifes and walk-in tableaux. Choreographed entirely by the artist, the exhibition is a descent into Fischer’s universe, revealing the world of an artist who has emerged as one of the most exceptional talents working today.
On the second floor, illusion and reality trade place in a game of multiple reflections. The installation Service à la française (2009)—Fischer’s most ambitious work to date—is a technical tour de force that required more than 25,000 photographs and over twelve tons of steel. More than fifty chrome boxes occupy the gallery, composing a grid of monoliths—a cityscape of mirrored cubes onto which the artist has silkscreened a dizzying array of images. Like a collage unraveling before the viewer’s eyes, the surfaces of the boxes create an optical maze that renders everything simultaneously immaterial and hyperreal.
On the third floor, Fischer presents an installation that turns the Museum’s architecture into an image of itself—a site-specific trompe l’oeil environment. Each square inch of the Museum architecture has been photographed and reprinted as a wallpaper that covers the very same walls and ceiling, in a maddening exercise in simulation. A piano occupies the space, appearing to melt under the pressure of some invisible force. Simultaneously solid and soft, like a Salvador Dalí painting in three dimensions, this sculpture, like many other works by Fischer, seems to succumb to a dramatic process of metamorphosis.
On the fourth floor, Fischer presents five new aluminum sculptures cast from small clays, hand-molded by the artist. Hanging from the ceiling or balancing awkwardly in space, these massive abstractions resemble strange cocoons or a gathering of enigmatic monuments.
An engineer of imaginary worlds, in the past Fischer has created sculptures in a rich variety of materials including unstable substances such as melting wax and rotting vegetables. In a continuous search for new plastic solutions, Fischer has built houses out of bread and given life to animated puppets; he has dissected objects or blown them out of proportion in order to reinvent our relationship to them. In 2007, in a now-legendary exhibition, he excavated the floor of his New York gallery, digging a crater within the exhibition space.
Throughout his work, with ambitious gestures and irreverent panache, Fischer explores the secret mechanisms of perception, combining a Pop immediacy with a neo-Baroque taste for the absurd.
This exhibition is organized by Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions.