Urs Fischer (b. 1973)
paraffin wax mixture, pigment, steel and wick
74½ x 31 x 52 in. (189.2 x 78.7 x 52 cm.)
Executed in 2010. This work is number two from and edition of two plus one artist's proof.
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Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Greenwich, Brant Foundation, Oscar the Grouch, May 2010-Febraury 2011 (another example exhibited).
One of the most celebrated artists of his generation, Urs Fischer creates in Untitled (Standing) a larger than life wax likeness of the art collector and publisher Peter Brant. Embedded in the body of wax are fourteen wicks which, when lit, turn Untitled (Standing) into a giant candle that slowly melts to the floor. Fischer created Untitled (Standing) for The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, in Greenwich, Connecticut, in May 2010. Fischer was given free reign over the entire foundation grounds, playfully entitling this exhibition Oscar the Grouch after the beloved but misanthropic Sesame Street character. For the central work in the show, he recreated a sitting room and the library of the interior of Brant's home, creating wallpaper (Abstract Slavery, 2008) from photographs of his walls: including artworks, windows and even furniture. The artist then placed the wax Brant into the façade of his living room. Fischer created two wax casts of Brant, one standing and resting on the back of an attached wax chair in the sitting room, the other sitting in a chair with his right leg comfortably crossed over his left and placed in the library. Each work is cast in an edition of two with one artist proof. These works were then burned throughout the exhibit until they melted into near abstraction.
Brant commissioned Urs Fischer to create works of art for The Brant Foundation however he saw fit. "I didn't know it was going to be a portraitartists need a certain amount of freedom" Brant told Lindsay Pollock at the opening reception in May 2010. This is the first portrait of Peter Brant and continues a long artistic tradition of depicting art collectors surrounded by their collections. One well-known example is the Venetian Portrait of Andrea Odoni masterfully painted by Lorenzo Lotto in 1527. Odoni is positioned within his collection of Roman antiquities, which the Renaissance Masters such as Lotto saw themselves as direct descendants of, and were popular among collectors at the time. Andrea Odoni is portrayed as a true connoisseur, dressed in a sumptuous fur-lined robe and deferring to the wealth contained within his collection by making the symbol of "sincerità" or reverence, with his left hand. Lotto's decision to render his subject with such evident humility parallels Fischer's depiction of Peter Brant in an impermanent medium and contained within a constructed environment.
Fischer marries high and low culture with his wax cast of Peter Brant by playing on the tradition of life-size celebrity wax figures featured at the tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds. Scale and context have always played important elements in the artist's work, a theme which continues with Untitled (Standing) as the wax replica of Brant is proportioned to be larger than life. Fischer notably explored proportions when he reconfigured a teddy bear into a 22-foot tall sculpture Untitled (Lamp/Bear), which sold at Christie's last May, setting a world record for the artist at auction.