Switzerland

Peter Fischli
David Weiss

Biography

Born in Zurich in 1952, Peter Fischli grew up in artistic circles influenced by the Bauhaus aesthetics. In 1975, he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Urbino, and subsequently at the Academy of Arts in Bologna. David Weiss, six years his senior, was born in Zurich in 1946. He attended the Zurich School of Art and Design until 1964 and then studied sculpture at the Basel School of Art and Design. Fischli and Weiss met in 1979 and formed the artist duo Fischli/Weiss until David Weiss’s death in 2012. 

They are rated among the world’s top contemporary artists. In over 25 years of activity, the duo exhibited in some of the most important institutions and museums worldwide and had major retrospectives in the US in 1996 and at the Tate Modern, London, in 2006. The duo represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and were awarded the prestigious Golden Lion in 2003 for their installation Questions. In 2016, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York organized a major retrospective of their work : How to Work Better. 

 

About the artworks

Fischli/Weiss handle everyday themes in satirical form and their works allude ironically to artistic paradigms. They often use a wide variety of untraditional artistic media to build and compose their projects, rendered in photography, film, sculpture or installations. The dissolution of conventional hierarchies and values is a recurrent theme throughout their entire body of work, which has reference to Marcel Duchamp, Dieter Roth and Jean Tinguely. Fischli/Weiss play with authenticity and fiction, reality and appearances. As their work always finds the right balance between conceptual concerns and entertainment value, it has been both acclaimed by the art critics and enthusiastically followed by a larger audience as it offers direct access without prior art-historical knowledge. 

Their first collaborative work, the Wurstserie (Sausage series) is a group of photographs created by arranging household items, food and sausages into little scenes. It set the tone for their style using humour to pry into aspects of the human condition. 

The film Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), their best-known work, is a 30-minute 16 mm chronicle that collapses the history of 20th century sculpture into a delirious and unstoppable chain of reactions in which objects fly, crash, and explode across the studio. It was presented in 1987 at the Document 8 in Kassel.

An important aspect of their practice is the encyclopaedic quest, as in the series Airports where hundreds of views from airports show airplanes on the ground and the surrounding banality of the daily routine of travel, or as in the series Suddenly This Overview, which consists of 250 small unfired clay sculptures depicting significant or mundane scenes from history and culture.

The artworks

03
Collection of contemporary art