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milled aluminum, galvanized steel, screws, bolts, two-component resin
85 7/8 x 103 9/16 x 43 3/4 in. (218.1 x 263.1 x 111.1 cm.)
Executed in 2013. This work is number two from an edition of three plus one artist's proof.
Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Acquired from the above by the present owner
U. Fischer, Sculptures 2013-2018, New York, 2019, pp. 12-17, 19 (illustrated).
P. Bhatnagar, A. Haywood and A. Roff, eds., Urs Fischer Look at Love with Love, 2022, pp. 542-545 (illustrated).
Rome, Gagosian Gallery, Urs Fischer, September-November 2013.
Greenwich, The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Urs Fischer: Error, May-October 2019.

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Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Out of gleaming aluminum, Urs Fischer has created a fantastical Pegasus, powerful and incandescent. Instead of wings, however, the horse has been draped in a hospital bed. Created in 2013, Horse/Bed is an impossible fancy, a mysterious chimera, here made real; the sculpture was included in the artist’s 2019 solo exhibition Urs Fischer: Error at The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, Greenwich, CT. The work’s titular horse is life-sized and wears the disjointed components of the mechanized bed like a harness. The naturalism of this impossible pairing is striking: the mattress creases, siderail release, and musculature have all been rendered in extraordinarily crisp detail. Fischer created the sculpture by combining three-dimensional scans of a taxidermy horse with those of the hospital bed, and the result is hypnotic, so real it seems almost credible. While the title, Horse/Bed, may describe the sculpture’s imagery, the slash mark is also indicative of the relationship represented. The horse and bed are at once together and separate, balanced yet disparate. Indeed, Horse/Bed demands that what was taken as a linguistic truth should in fact be reconsidered: reality is never exactly as it seems.

For Fischer, manifesting the uncanny is key to his practice—and life. He traffics in the outlandish and startling, with the aim of disturbing the edges of reality. “You need to find new ways of disrupting your environment in order to keep it interesting for yourself,” Fischer has said. “Change is healthy. It keeps the mind alive” (U. Fischer interviewed by N. Wakefield, “Urs Fischer: An Artist Impossible to Pin Down,” AnOther Magazine, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 411). Fischer is unabashed in his efforts to transmogrify his surroundings. “The only interesting thing about art,” Fischer has said, “is what one does over one’s entire life, and the chance that art can travel in time… I’m talking about the efficiency of certain works, in what they do to your perception of the world” (U. Fischer interviewed by J. Griffin, ‘Urs Fischer, the reluctant interviewee’, The Art Newspaper, no. 234 (April 2012) n. p.). Although his outlook may seem future-oriented, in fact his practice is replete with art historical references. Horse/Bed recalls Surrealist juxtapositions such as Salvador Dalí’s Lobster Telephone. Central to Surrealism, however, is the embrace of the unconscious translated into a visual form, yet Fischer’s objects seem less the result of daydream imaginings than the physical expression of a secular magic.

Fischer, whose work has recent solo exhibitions at the Bourse de Commerce, Paris, the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh in Arles, began his career not as a sculpture but a photographer, studying the medium at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zurich. Quickly, his interests expanded, and he took up sculpture, painting, and installation. A thread within his oeuvre is the absence of hierarchy and tradition; instead, Fischer concentrates on image making, in whatever form. “I love working,” he once told the curator Massimiliano Gioni. “I don’t know what to look for in my work but I consider it a good friend of mine” (U. Fischer quoted in C. Tompkins, “The Imperfectionist,” The New Yorker, 12 October 2009. Such an approach is, at its core, rooted in restlessness and hybridity. “When one remembers photography’s origins in the camera obscura and therefore its initial relationship to architecture and space rather than just a flat planar image,” writes Nicholas Cullinan, “this unlikely relationship in Fischer’s work begins to make more sense” (N. Cullinan, ‘Urs Fischer’s Objects and Images,’ Parkette, no. 94 (2014), pp 60-61). Indeed, Horse/Bed is more than simply the manifestation of the impossible. Instead, it transforms its environs and makes them magic too.

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