In Dada tradition, his pieces distort, destroy or frankenstein everyday objects: an aluminium and steel rhino for instance, to which the likes of photocopiers, lawnmowers, crisp packets and a car door are attached, or Lamp/Bear, a cast bronze and resin yellow teddy whose head is bisected by a desk light.
Destruction is as important to Fischer as creation: objects and environments are sawn and dug into, or rot or melt away during an exhibition. ‘It’s always about decay,’ he has said. ‘A Van Gogh, you look at it a hundred years later and the colours go…There’s a reason the nose fell off the Sphinx.’
Born in Zurich in 1973, at 16, Fischer went to the city’s arts-and-crafts academy, Schule für Gestaltung, to study photography. Two years in, he quit and moved to Amsterdam, where he won a grant to study at a school run by Dutch artists and began to build and soon design film sets.
Fischer’s breakthrough work, Rotten Foundation (1998), was a mortared cinder-block wall laid on a mound of gradually decaying fruit and vegetables. Food has featured often in his practice since. Bread House (2004–05), for instance, was a life-size, one-room alpine chalet built from loaves. A later iteration included nibbling parakeets.
In 2003, Fischer made his first melting sculpture piece: What If the Phone Rings (2003) comprised three nude women carved from hand-coloured wax. Wicks in their bodies were lit at the start of the exhibition and the sculptures left to disfigure. In 2014, Christie’s sold number three from an edition of three for $2,741,000. Other candle pieces have followed, including a self-portrait and sculptures of art-world icons including the artist Julian Schnabel.
For the 2006 Whitney Museum Biennial, Fischer presented two holes in the gallery wall with a view of a painting by his friend, Italian artist Rudolf Stingel. The following year, he also excavated New York’s Gavin Brown gallery, creating an eight-foot hole that viewers variously peered or climbed into. A 2009 solo show at the New Museum also featured a mirrored labyrinth.
In 2021, Fischer was commissioned by Louis Vuitton to reimagine the label’s iconic quatrefoil and flowers monogram. The same year, he produced his first NFT, the CHAOS #1–#500 series: two connected objects in motion, such as a pig’s trotter with a bottle of nail varnish.
Fischer has shown at the Venice Biennale three times and had major exhibitions at the Pompidou, Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. His works are held by MoMA New York, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.