Urs Fischer–izing


Urs Fischer specializes in making jaws drop. Cutting giant holes in gallery walls, digging a crater in Gavin Brown’s gallery floor in 2007, creating amazing hyperrealist wallpaper for a group show at Tony Shafrazi: It all percolates with uncanny destructiveness, operatic uncontrollability, and barbaric sculptural power. It’s set expectations for his full-building retrospective at the New Museum incredibly high, and he’s working hard to meet them. Fischer has lowered ceilings, added lights, and closed off doors, trying to get the effects he wants in this cold, almost soulless exhibition space. So much so that the curator Massimiliano Gioni mused to one writer, “I have thought a couple of times of killing him.” Thrill seekers, be forewarned: There’s bravura work but no drop-dead moment here. Each of Fischer’s three floors is beautiful, and each has an elfin elusiveness and deep material intelligence. They also have dead spots and duds. Fischer is weakest at smaller discrete sculptures and best when he’s taking over entire spaces or reacting to other artworks nearby. (Also, at a rumored $330,000 to stage, the show is another example of an art world that doesn’t know when to say no.) Had Fischer made a swashbuckling statement by (let’s say) demolishing the museum’s second and third floors, he would have wowed everyone. Instead, thankfully, he took the hard way, putting together multiple ideas: exploring the sculptural-philosophical-experiential qualities of fullness on the fourth floor, emptiness on the third, and a mixture of both on the second floor.

more from Jerry Saltz at New York Magazine here.