Lot 45
  • 45

Urs Fischer

150,000 - 250,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Urs Fischer
  • In Dubio Pro Reo
  • found cabinet, stool and bowl, epoxy glue and polyurethane glue
  • 115 by 110 by 80cm.; 45 1/4 by 43 3/8 by 31 1/2 in.
  • Executed in 2007.


Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2007


Cockatoo Island, Kaldor Art Projects and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, Urs Fischer, 2007

Venice, Palazzo Grassi – François Pinault Foundation, Urs Fischer – Madame Fisscher, 2012, pp. 120-21, illustrated in colour, and pp. 122-23, installation view


Exhibition Catalogue, New York, New Museum, Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, 2009-10, p. 43, illustrated in colour

Exhibition Catalogue, Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Urs Fischer, 2013, p. 447, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate. 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

Urs Fischer is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation. His subversive appropriations of everyday objects have earned him international acclaim, and although he has worked in a wide array of mediums and styles across a diverse and multifarious oeuvre, his bold and witty poetic voice has stayed constant. Consisting entirely of found objects, In Dubio Pro Reo is a prime example of his confident artistic expression and, having prominently featured in solo exhibitions in New York, Venice, and Los Angeles, comes to market with a fantastic exhibition history.

Fischer has relied heavily on the chair across as a visual device throughout his body of work. He uses it as a surreal proxy for the human form: simultaneously suggestive of the human presence and, in its creation of a corporeal void, indicative of its absence. Particularly in the present work, Fischer’s chairs are real objects that force the viewer to interact with the work on an immediate level. In the words of the artist, “those domestic objects as you call them, are made in human scale, so they can also be related to humans. They’re made by humans for humans. They speak about us.” (Urs Fischer quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, New York, New Museum, Urs Fischer: Shovel in a Hole, 2009-10, p. 63).

However, far from being presented as a pristine Duchampian readymade, In Dubio Pro Reo is covered in the marks of human intervention. Every panel of the cabinet is smashed and dented, every strut and leg of the chair has been snapped and repaired, and a yanked out drawer reveals a china bowl that has been painstakingly glued back together from complete obliteration. The whole ensemble appears to sag inwards, as if on the verge of imminent collapse. When paired with the title, which is the German legal term that indicates any defendant is innocent until proven guilty, this sense of destruction and repair imbues the work with a sense of incisive wit. Fischer equates a rundown heap of furniture with one of the central pillars of the German judicial system. In this context, the chair becomes an invitation: to rely on the legal precedent of In Dubio Pro Reo is to sit on the chair, relying on the rickety tower of barely repaired furniture, and waiting for the next killer blow to bring the whole ensemble crashing down.

In its appropriation of everyday objects, in its witty and incisive commentary on the German legal system, and in its intricate visual exploration of destruction and repair, In Dubio Pro Reo is in keeping with the very highest echelons of Fisher’s widely lauded oeuvre. Cynical, witty, and engaging, it presents an exposition of his seditious style at its confident best.