Lot 1
  • 1

Urs Fischer

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
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  • Urs Fischer
  • Youyou
  • galvanized cast bronze, cast bronze, screws, washers, two-component epoxy primer, polyester filler, two-component polyester body filler, urethane primer, waterborne base coat and polyurethane matte clearcoat, in two parts
  • i: 192 by 77.5 by 44cm.; 75 5/8 by 30 1/2 by 17 3/8 in. ii: 178.5 by 53.5 by 112.5cm.; 70 1/4 by 21 1/8 by 44 1/4 in.
  • overall: 192 by 225 by 112.5cm.; 75 5/8 by 88 5/8 by 44 1/4 in.
  • Executed in 2004-12, this work is unique.


Regen Projects, Los Angeles

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2005


Los Angeles, Regen Projects, Group Show, 2004


Exhibition Catalogue, New York, New Museum, Shovel in a Hole, 2009-10, p. 26, illustration of the work in progress in colour


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the shadow of the left nail is bluer in the original and the illustration fails to fully convey the richly textured and metallic surface of the nails. Condition: This work is in very good and original condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Combining humour with a visually and theoretically challenging creative concept, Youyou reveals Urs Fischer’s astonishing ability to imbue quotidian objects with unexpected perspectives and ideas. Two hugely oversized nails lean against a wall, somewhat mockingly supported by their own shadows: traditionally mere echoes of an actual body, the shadows are here awarded corporeal form to powerful effect. Inclining subtly towards each other, the interaction between both nails becomes curiously reminiscent of that of a human couple, captured in a moment of engagement as though mid-conversation. Claudia Schmuckli notes the importance of normal, commonplace objects as key sources of inspiration for Fischer’s multi-faceted corpus: “The conflation of the generic and the specific is crucial for an understanding of Fischer’s oeuvre. So is the superimposition and layering of different realities and levels of experiences – all anchored in, and grounded by, the rules of the everyday as the ultimate personal point of reference” (Claudia Schmuckli, ‘Just Push Play’ in: Exhibition Catalogue, Houston, Blaffer Gallery, Urs Fischer: Mary Poppins, 2006, p. 36). There is a playful Pop sensibility inherent within the present work, which recalls Claes Oldenburg’s own investigations into hyper-sized everyday objects, such as Saw (Hard Version II), 1971. Youyou endows the everyday with a sense of fantastical enchantment, placing the viewer in the position of a Lilliputian explorer adrift in a world of unexpectedly gigantic forms. Although Fischer later returned to the theme with a series of editioned works, Youyou, as the original manifestation of the idea, is the only piece which is unique, imbuing the work with an added importance.

Fischer is one of the most innovative and pioneering artists working today; a creative maverick whose oeuvre has consistently transcended boundaries and challenged accepted artistic conventions. Working in a dizzying range of media and styles, Fischer’s imagination has so far given rise to an extraordinary variety of installations, sculptures, photography and painting, all of which share a subtle sense of mockery and an amusingly subversive wit. Figural portraits in wax that are allowed to slowly melt away, swinging light installations and vibrating furniture are all examples of Fischer’s endlessly versatile technique. Everyday objects are appropriated and employed in wholly unexpected juxtapositions, causing the onlooker to question their response to the surrounding environment and further extending and interrogating the idea of the Duchampian ‘readymade’ as well as the Surrealist concept of the ‘found object’. Schmuckli highlights the unique range of Fischer’s creative language: “Drawing freely from a multiplicity of sources without regard for tradition and hierarchy, his work effortlessly combines elements of high, mainstream, and underground cultures in a convincing demonstration of how irrelevant such categorisations have become. Fischer’s work, oscillating between rawness and tenderness, all-too-knowing experience and wilful innocence, evokes an existence ruled by extremes that deftly balances humour and tragedy, delicacy and brutality, complexity and banality, to create poignant vignettes of everyday life” (ibid.). Simultaneously witty yet also challenging in its elevation of a ‘basic’ object to the level of monumental public sculpture, the present work serves as a thought-provoking explication of Fischer’s utterly distinctive and highly diverse aesthetic dialectic.