Urs Fischer’s Vision Takes Over New Museum


Urs Fischer's "Service à la Française,” a 51-piece installation on the second floor. Image via The New York Times.

by Emily Waldorf

Swiss-born, New York-based artist Urs Fischer’s current show, Urs Fischer:  Margeurite de Ponty, at the New Museum features installations and constructed environments from the past two years that span three floors, which is almost the entire museum.  Walking through Fischer’s show is like stepping into Alice’s Wonderland or a Surrealist painting that has morphed into a three dimensional fun house.

The second floor of the museum features an installation,”Service à la Française,” comprised of a forest of over 25,000 photographs and over twelve tons of steel taking the form of chrome boxes of all shapes and sizes, completely immersing the viewer in an alternate reality.  The silkscreened images covering the boxes include a pink and a blue glass of champagne, a doughnut, an eclair, designer shoes, a box of matches, a lighter, a pop star, and many more uncanny pairings that create a dizzying dialogue.

The third floor is a site specific trompe l’oeil environment in which Fischer has painstakingly photographed and reprinted the entirety of the museum’s architecture.  There is also a cartoonish sculpture of a violet piano that appears to be melting at the center of the gallery.

The fourth floor includes five new aluminum sculptures that were hand molded by the artist and cast from small clays.  The ensemble of impressive sculptures gives the impression of being an ant in a Japanese Zen garden.  According to The Wall Street Journal, installing the exhibition was no small feat since many of the aluminum sculptures had to be broken down into smaller pieces in order to make it to the fourth floor.  Fischer is notorious for orchestrating grueling technical feats in the name of his art.

The New York Times art critic Robert Smith recommends starting at the fourth floor and descending to third and then the second as the best way to take in the show, and I have to agree because it saves the best for last, which is undoubtedly “Service à la Française.”  Smith thought the show was “quite a bit tamer and quieter than expected from the artist and organizing curator,” but I think it is an impressive and challenging exhibition nonetheless and well worth the detour.

Urs Fischer:  Margeurite de Ponty was organized by Massimiliano Gioni, the New Museum’s Director of Special Exhibitions.  It is the artist’s first large-scale solo show in an American museum and runs through February 7, 2010.

3 Responses to “Urs Fischer’s Vision Takes Over New Museum”

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