Urs Fischer - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, October 3, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York
    Private Collection, USA
    Sotheby's, London, 12 October 2012, lot 39
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Texas, Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston, Mary Poppins, 13 May 2006 - 8 May 2006
    New York, New Museum, Urs Fischer Shovel in a Hole, 28 October 2009 - 24 January 2010, pp. 252 - 253, 457 (illustrated, pp. 252-253)
    Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Urs Fischer, 21 April - 19 August 2013, pp. 450-451, 599 (illustrated, p. 450)

  • Catalogue Essay

    'Artwork is brutal for so many people. They let it happen to them, but it’s brutal. I like the idea of an artist as somebody who works.' - Urs Fischer

    Through his far-reaching interventions and complex creations that defy categorisation, Urs Fischer has established himself as one of the most influential artists of his time. Drawing on Marcel Duchamp’s profound notion of the readymade, the present work, executed almost a century after the Dada artist’s experimentations, is exemplary of Fischer’s imitable ability to transform everyday objects into dimensional compositions.

    Inherently contradictory, Chagall transforms an object of apparent stability into a vulnerable and non-functional object. The wooden plank supported by a life-size ladder appears robust, however, the sculpture is carved from polyurethane foam and is further undermined by the motorised propeller affixed to the plank which causes the work to shake. Through the mobile structure, Fischer deceives our perception, questioning our fundamental understanding of physics and transforming it in to a poetical device.

    A nod to Marc Chagall’s painterly concern with the biblical Jacob’s Ladder, in Chagall the central structure extends toward heaven, evoking the holy symbol of transcendence. Elucidating his fascination with uncovering the influences of fellow artist’s Fischer notes ‘I did not know what to do with Chagall, I never connected’ (‘Urs Fischer’, Alaine L Kann Interviews, New York, 1 February 2015, online). Characteristically interrogating the endless possibilities of materials and objects, Fischer instils the present work with material, symbolic and kinetic dimensionality.



polyurethane foam, nails, spray enamel, acrylic paint, filler, polyurethane glue, electric motor, aluminium, control unit, battery and cables
229 x 77 x 142.3 cm (90 1/8 x 30 3/8 x 56 in.)
Executed in 2006.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £68,750

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 4 October 2018