In May, 2017, I took a trip to visit five San Francisco art museums. I decided to revert to my profession of being an educator in this blog by giving a short personal tour to my favorite exhibition, Urs Fischer (b. 1972) at the Legion of Honor Museum (http://legionofhonor.famsf.org). Fischer’s exhibition was titled, The Public and the Private and interacts with the museum’s permanent collection. The website intro says:
Urs Fischer’s sculptures and paintings explore the tension between the material and the digital, object and image. Drawing on Western art history and popular culture, he continuously recalibrates the techniques and modalities underlying the creation and consumption of artworks. Fischer has an innate ability to play with the mechanisms of perception to challenge people’s awareness of the physical and ideological contexts of their surroundings. Mining image traditions and artistic materials to introduce ideas of time and transience, his installations often have the character of an uncanny and fleeting illusion.
In conjunction with the exhibition Auguste Rodin: The Centenary Installation, the Legion of Honor has invited Fischer to bring a contemporary perspective to our understanding and appreciation of the Museums’ permanent collection, specifically the acclaimed collection of Rodin sculptures.
With more than thirty works installed throughout the Court of Honor, rotunda and upper level galleries at the Legion of Honor, Fischer’s sprawling exhibition offers a unique opportunity to appreciate his inventive transformation of iconographic traditions in the context of a historic collection.
In front of the entrance, Fischer has installed 16 hand built clay figures that contrast with Rodin’s, The Thinker. Fischer repeats the process that Rodin used and has his clay figures cast by a foundry into bronze. His works are simple and less “skilled” inviting the similarity only so far. However they have a spontaneity and freshness that often represents contemporary art.
In the foyer stands an eight foot wax sculpture (candle) of a man who marks the passage of time by burning away the wax. Viewers are reminded that this work is different from those works around it, in that it is meant to be temporary.
In the French and Rococo Galleries, Fisher places two chairs and compares them to the ornate historical chairs behind them. His chairs have a personal meaning and call attention to the maker, as opposed to an anonymous craftsman.
My favorite work consists of two giant ceramic eyes that confront historical portraits. Fischer’s eyes are scary and intrude upon the viewer in a manner that flattering portraits behind never intended.
To learn more about the exhibition, up until July 2, 2017 and Urs Fischer, see: