Madame Fisscher

Palazzo Grassi
15/04 - 15/07/2012


Urs Fischer is the first living artist to be given a monographic exhibition at Palazzo Grassi. Over thirty works have been selected from the Pinault Collection and other international collections.

"Madame Fisscher", conceived by Urs Fischer and curator Caroline Bourgeois, occupies Palazzo Grassi’s large atrium and entire first floor. The body of work on show presents Urs Fischer’s artistic career from the 1990s to 2012, and is enriched with some works that are exhibited here for the first time: from those he created in collaboration with Georg Herold to a collective sculptural project done together with students at Venice’s Academy of Fine Arts in the city’s public spaces.

Urs Fischer is considered one of the major sculptors of our time, and his work combines illusion and reality, violence and humour, eternity and transience, presenting the viewer with a creative universe that is simultaneously logical and absurd.

Fischer appropriates everyday objects – his ‘principal material’, par excellence – and transforms their meanings with a sharp sense of humour, a tendency towards paradox, expressive techniques and varied materials. Playing with surprise, entertainment, doubt and worry, Fischer questions himself over the course of the exhibition about the history of art, about sculpture, about our relationship with our bodies, about the concept of time and the status of the object.


Urs Fischer was born in 1973 in Zurich, Switzerland. He studied photography at the School for Design before continuing his training at De Ateliers in Amsterdam and Delfina Studio Trust in London. From the beginning of his career, Fischer understood how to create a varied universe, made up of objects, figures and environments, all permeated with a sense of the absurd and irony. Urs Fischer is in fact considered one of the most irreverent and intelligent artists of his generation. Through his open-minded use of materials, he subverts the way we usually think about space and makes us question our traditional approach to things. For example, he makes life-size chalets made out of bread; portraits of people whose faces are covered with fruit; holes in walls; scrunched up beds and pianos; and compositions made of brioches and butterflies. Fischer’s world is multicoloured and unpredictable. His interest in the popular imagination and objects from our contemporary society has led him to create works in which the usual context of things is subverted to create new forms and meanings.

Among his most important works are his wax sculptures: like candles with a wick, once lit they are consumed by time, becoming molten forms and finally mounds of wax on the floor. Materials that self-destruct – like wax or bread – are central to many of Fischer’s works. He likes to explore the infinite possibilities of materials, using them to introduce a further dimension to his works: that of time. His frequent and ironic quotations make Fischer a serial collector of art historical subjects, works and themes, to which he gives an entirely new dimension through his subtle but paradoxical perspective. With his large-scale installations and recreations of entire environments – like his studio – Urs Fischer gives the viewer the possibility of physically experiencing something intangible: the creative process.

Exhibitions dedicated to his work have been held at: Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016), Vito Schnabel Gallery, St. Moritz (2015), Gagosian Gallery, California (2015), The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2015). He participated in the Venice Biennale in 2003, 2007 and 2011. In 2012 Palazzo Grassi held an exhibition called “Madame Fisscher”. His works were also shown in the exhibitions “The World Belongs to You” (2011-12), “Mapping the Studio” (2009-11), “Sequence 1” (2007), “Una selezione Post-pop” (2006-7) and “Where are We Going?” (2006).

Exhibition guide

Madame Fisscher