ARTnewsletter Archive

U.S. Following Grows for Fischli & Weiss

A major exhibition of tabletop sculptures and large, room-size installations by the Swiss duo of Peter Fischli and David Weiss ran Oct. 29–Jan. 16 at the three Chelsea gallery spaces of New York dealer Matthew Marks. Roughly two-thirds of the 26 sculptures and 2 installations on display found buyers, according to Marks.

NEW YORK—A major exhibition of tabletop sculptures and large, room-size installations by the Swiss duo of Peter Fischli and David Weiss ran Oct. 29–Jan. 16 at the three Chelsea gallery spaces of New York dealer Matthew Marks. Roughly two-thirds of the 26 sculptures and 2 installations on display found buyers, according to Marks.

The main Matthew Marks gallery on West 24th Street featured Clay and Rubber, 1986–2009, 26 sculptures of everyday objects—a dog bowl, chain links, a hiking boot, an ottoman, and bricks, among others—cast in black rubber between 1986 and 2009 or modeled in unfired clay between 2000 and 2009.

The other two spaces each contained a single installation. Sun, Moon and Stars, 2007–8, an arrangement of 800 magazine ads from hundreds of international periodicals displayed on 38 wood and glass tables, measuring 330 feet in length, was on view on West 22nd Street. The third location, also on West 22nd Street, was showing Untitled (Sleeping Puppets), 2008/9, composed of two empty, slowly breathing animal costumes—the ones worn by the artists in their personas of Rat and Bear in the films The Least Resistance, 1981, and The Right Way, 1983—“sleeping” on a pile of blankets.

According to Marks, prices for the tabletop rubber and clay pieces ranged from $10,000 to $375,000, and all of the sales were to private collectors. Untitled (Sleeping Puppets) was priced at $350,000, and Sun, Moon and Stars was priced at $950,000. Installations by Fischli & Weiss generally range widely in price, from $500,000 to $2million. Sculptures are priced in the $80,000/500,000 range, and photographic installations are priced at $50,000/100,000.

Matthew Marks Gallery has been the exclusive U.S. representative for Fischli & Weiss since 1998, and has held ten exhibitions of their work since then. “They always do well in terms of sales,” Marks said. In Europe, the duo has been represented by Sprüth Magers, London, Cologne and Berlin, since 1983 and by Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, since 1992.

Interest in the artists’ work has been increasing in North America, though they remain better known in Europe. Eva Presenhuber told ART­newsletter that the majority of their buyers are based in Europe, including Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Norway, but added that “in the last ten years, they have sold much more in America than they had before.” Marks said the artists have buyers in Latin America as well as in Europe and the United States.

Fischli & Weiss works have come up at public sales a number of times, often garnering high prices. The top auction price for their work is $855,351, paid for the mixed-media installation Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), 1987, at Christie’s in Zurich in December 2008 on an estimate of $753,000/1.25million. Other top prices include $358,600, paid at Christie’s in London in 2006 for the group of three rubber sculptures Drawer, Small Cupboard, Divider, 1987 (estimate: $186,000/279,000), and $276,000, paid at Chris­tie’s in New York in February 2007 for the cast rubber sculpture Kanalarbeiter (Sewer Workers), 1986–87 (estimate: $80,000/120,000).

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