Posts tagged with "Sculpture":

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Anish Kapoor's New York bean is finally rising at 56 Leonard

Long live the new bean: The long-delayed New York version of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in Chicago (colloquially known as The Bean) is finally rising at the foot of the Jenga-like Herzog & de Meuron’s (and executive architect Hill West Architects) 56 Leonard in Tribeca. Prep work for the mirrored sculpture began last summer, as the sculpture’s outline was marked out on the concrete plaza below the tower. Installation proper began in October, and the piece, a bean similar to Cloud Gate but squished below 56 Leonard’s mass, has steadily been arriving in pieces since then. Although the building above was completed in 2016, the bean, which was always intended as part of 56 Leonard (featuring into renderings as far back as 2008) has been repeatedly delayed. As Tribeca Citizen explains in an excerpt from fabricators Performance Structures, Inc. to the building’s developer in 2018:
The Leonard Street sculpture requires equivalent accuracy and precision, but with an added component. Cloud Gate was assembled in Chicago from the finished plate sections and support framework, built at our facility, and then all the joining seams were welded together on site. After the seams were welded, they all needed to be ground down, and the seam zones sanded and polished to match the rest of the plate surfaces. This on-site seam welding was very laborious and extremely costly. […] [...] In order to make the Leonard Street sculpture installation more expeditious, and to save costs, it was decided to build the precision components such that they could be tightly fit together, with the seams thereby becoming nearly invisible hair line cracks. This concept was successfully tested in a sample piece produced by us, and presented to the Artist for his approval prior to beginning the project.
In addition to needing to mill and test extremely precise, interlocking metal plates, each segment will need to be bolted to the concrete plaza, then a system of tension cables for each section will need to be installed and properly calibrated. This will allow the bean to sway with the wind and expand and contract safely with fluctuations in temperature. Although at the time of writing the sculpture is sitting approximately half-finished with the exposed opening covered in plywood, it looks like 56 Leonard will finally be finished.
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In rural Michigan, an ordinary barn becomes a secret gift to the sky

Tucked at the tip of Michigan’s thumb is artist and architect Catie Newell’s latest and largest triumph, Secret Sky, a barn that marks where the landscape meets the sky. Located in Kinde, Michigan, eight miles south of Lake Huron’s expanse, a nearly doomed barn has been regenerated as public art. Newell executes a singular move—a simple slice through the barn—to reveal the passage of time, like passing clouds or the sunset. Slowly the architecture is revealed, as shape, form, and silhouette. Most of Newell’s work can be characterized as installation art. At this smaller-than-building scale, Newell obsessed over delicacy and attenuation meeting lightness and darkness. An architect by training, her work is often positioned within existing spaces to capture a moment in time, no matter how ephemeral the work itself is. With Secret Sky, her most permanent piece yet, the work is no longer transitory and the architecture encapsulates the moment. Once there, from the top of the drive-in approach, the simplicity of the site becomes evident. The barn sits isolated, unaccompanied by a farmhouse or silo. The untouched gambrel silhouette reminds you of where you are: the middle of nowhere, the rural Midwest. It’s a peaceful setting and really quite inconspicuous until you see the splitting of the barn. The slice carves an elongated passage that frames the sky and allows light to pour through, marking where one space becomes two. Once again Newell offers something recognizable cast in a new light. The barn has been surrendered as a gift to the sky. The integrity of the barn remains; the slice itself seems original to the 100-year-old structure. To create the inverted walls of the slice and patch the facades, Newell salvaged wood from a barn down the road that had blown over during Secret Sky's construction. She meticulously adjusted each board on-site to be just right, creating near-perfect seams and points, and evenly distributing qualities like knots, wood grain, and coloring to assure continuity. Although Newell is accustomed to working with robots as the Director of the Master of Science in Digital and Material Technologies at the University of Michigan, for this piece, Newell relied on intuition and hands-on precision rather than computation to achieve fidelity. A lot of work in the project went to modifying existing conditions like the foundation and the crumbling structure. The slope of the new, angled walls required experienced engineering with the help of John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering based in Troy, Michigan. Newell herself relaid the framing alongside countless volunteers day in and day out. Considering the barn no longer services large animals and or stores farm equipment, much of the structural detailing extends from a maximum 26 feet above to the dirt ground, taking up floor space. In 1955, the barn moved 300 feet south from its original location to a concrete foundation where columns were sat upon and the structure tied into. Secret Sky required removing part of the foundation and retransferring that structural load. With major beams cut away and a column removed, the repositioned structure now pins at ground level instead of up high for both the steel tension rods and the wooden compression members. The tension rods (for higher forces) pin to a concrete ballast 48 inches below ground, the same ballast the compression members pin to at grade. The final solution captures the forces the barn faces in its new configuration and wind loads. Here, Midwestern know-how has crafted a handsome assemblage that was finetuned for over two years until its completion. The north facade favors a grand view of the slice, as it stretches from an old barn door opening to a peak on the gambrel roof. When walking through the passage, a glimpse upward reveals the moment where the split occurs and another scene of the barn meeting the sky. The single-space barn has been reconfigured as a new enclosure. Though it has become two spaces, only the larger form is inhabitable. Where Newell’s earlier work referenced vanishing material and space, the permanence of Secret Sky challenges her work’s introversion at a greatly appreciated scale. The slice is oriented at an east-west angle, allowing the sunrise and sunset to pour in through the triangular frame. If you time it right, you can catch the sun blazing right in the middle. Solar panels on the roof (not yet installed) will power interior lighting to turn on at last light, illuminating the barn like a lantern glowing from within. Morning or evening, a golden glow will wash the grounds—the architecture as the lamp. Secret Sky was born out of a greater initiative to enliven derelict barns around the thumb, amping up tourism in the area through the arts. The barn was donated by the owner and commissioned by the Greater Port Austin Art & Placemaking. Secret Sky is the nonprofit’s third “barn art” project, adding to what could become a large sculpture garden sprinkled around the thumb of Michigan. Structural Engineer: John Gruber of Sheppard Engineering; Fabrication support and volunteer hours: etc Construction Services, Detroit.
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Matt Johnson exhibits construction equipment as sculpture at Blum & Poe

Much of the work produced by Los Angeles-based sculptor Matt Johnson attempts to speak to both the fields of art and architecture by marrying the material language of the latter with the playfulness of the former. An untitled exhibition of his work currently on display at L.A. gallery Blum & Poe demonstrates the artist's ability to take seemingly banal elements familiar to the construction industry—traffic cones, cinder blocks, bricks, rebar—and reconfigure them into works that question balance, efficiency, bureaucracy, and the general feeling of safety we ascribe to the built environment. Johnson's fourth solo exhibition at Blum & Poe features eleven sculptures, each of which present fragile, precarious figures out of the most durable materials available in the building industry. This combination of materiality and precarity presented by Johnson recalls the work of modern and contemporary sculptors, including the spindly figures of Alberto Giacometti, the metal balancing acts of Alexander Calder, and the multimedia assemblages of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Like those artists, Johnson employs few tricks to summon his materials into their seemingly impossible positions. “No illusions are cast,” the press release states, “the objects are carved actors on a set, executing their performances, restricted only by their painted, wooden, physical existence.” A few of the sculptures on display even manage to bring a sense of personality and narrative to the inert objects that make up their compositions. One sculpture, titled 1 block with 2 bricks and 2 bricks cantilevered on 1 bar, can be read as the embodiment of a millennia-long competition between clay and concrete in the building industry—or, speaking more generally, between two distinctly opposing methods of potentially arriving at the same final result. This and other pieces are, according to the gallery, “organized information, like subatomic particles, atoms and elements, molecules and compounds, glued by gravity, and magnetic polarity, surfing in a sea of electrical conductivity.” The exhibition will be on display until January 11, 2020.
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Someone ate Maurizio Cattelan's $120,000 banana

In case you missed it, a banana duct-taped to a blank wall, that fruit whose peel has been the basis of so much slapstick comedy, sold for no less than $120,000 at Art Basel Miami Beach, the sun-soaked winter outpost of the Swiss art fair. Called Comedian, the sculpture—three editions available—was the creation of the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who recently had another brush with mainstream press when his full-functioning 18 karat gold toilet, America, was stolen from Blenheim Palace in England less than two months ago. The banana attracted a great deal of attention at the fair, with people lining up to take selfies with the fruit mounted to the wall of the global mega gallery Perrotin. It also attracted, depending on your perspective, vandalism or critical intervention: The performance artist David Datuna ate the banana on Saturday. Comedian was taken down for the last day of the fair because of the disruption it was causing, after which someone used the opportunity to scrawl “EPSTIEN [SIC] DIDN’T KILL HIMSELF” in blood-red paint on the now-bare wall. It was promptly covered up. https://twitter.com/GiancarloSopo/status/1203875430803087367 While Datuna’s performance may appeal to some as a means of pointing out the relative valuelessness of the work, they would be missing the point. Of course Comedian is just a fruit and some household tape. Nobody is meant to believe that the materials are in-themselves valuable beyond their grocery store price points. What is sold to collectors is not duct tape and a banana, but rather a certificate, which presumably includes maintenance instructions. The inherent ephemerality of the fruit is part of the work: owners can change the banana whenever they see fit. Obviously anybody could make this work at home, that's not in dispute. What’s sold, supposedly, is an idea (and the right to resell it). That is to say, that it is not about the objects. Like much art of the past 100 years, which has included urinals, apples, and canned feces as high-value objects, the intention of art like Comedian is to question how value is produced in the context of art. The controversy, mainstream and art world press, and social media presence is presumably as much as part of the work as the banana mounted in almost painterly gesture by a diagonal strip of duct tape somewhere it doesn’t belong. Even if we were to take Comedian at face value, putting decay on display through constantly-rotting produce isn't a new idea, either. Comedian also references the history of Cattelan’s own practice. The 1999 A Perfect Day, a mainstay of art history classes, used a whole lot more tape to attach Cattelan’s gallerist Massimo De Carlo to the wall for an entire day. Now, 20 years later, with a title that suggests a person—maybe himself, maybe his gallerist—perhaps we can see this banana as a stand-in for the body. Or, depending on one's leanings, it might just be rendering all the art system’s actors (this writer included) as charlatans and jesters. Whoever the joke may be on, Comedian is at the very least an ironic critique of the art market. As Jason Farago points out in his "grudging defense" in the New York Times: “[Cattelan’s] entire career has been a testament to an impossible desire to create art sincerely, stunted here by money, there by his own doubts.” By asking so much money for an idea (successfully, at least one edition has sold) that unifies two cheap, common objects, and creating so much controversy along with it, Cattelan attempts to expose the ways value is generated in art, as well as issues of authorship. Of course, at a time of rising inequality and rising seas that threaten Miami Beach, one might not find it so funny and fairly see it as a further indictment of an art system awash in cash, a playground for the one percent. That's what Comedian has to tell us: it’s all a charade, fresh fruit and painted canvas and plain-old dollar bills alike. Regardless, Cattelan will surely be happy to take his 50 percent cut.
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Do Ho Suh’s New York apartment replica gifted to LACMA

An anonymous donor has gifted one of New York-based artist Do Ho Suh's large-scale sculptures to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The piece, 348 West 22nd Street (2011-2015), is a full-scale fabric replica of two adjacent ground floor units in a low-rise Chelsea apartment the artist rented for nineteen years during his early career. It's in the same vein as The Perfect Home II, another exploration of the same space that closed out a run earlier this year at the Brooklyn Museum. Suh used translucent polyester thread, wiring, and a steel frame to recreate the features of his former apartment building in excruciating detail, down to the curvature of the bathroom tiles and the lettering on the kitchen oven. The two apartment units, shared corridor, and staircase are each rendered in vibrant blocks of color that help distinguish them as visitors look through the translucent surfaces. To create the sculpture, Suh matched digital mapping tools with traditional Korean sewing techniques over the course of four years. The translucency and gentle sagging that many of the elements face under the weight of their materials remind the viewer that the sculpture is only a ghostly copy of the original, the full details of which are surrendered to memory loss. “The whole process,” Suh commented, “is to remember the space, and also to somehow memorialize the space.” Throughout his career, Suh has made full-scale recreations of spaces he has previously occupied in Seoul, Providence, London and New York using fabric, paper, and other fragile materials to symbolize the ephemerality of the places we build our lives. 348 West 22nd Street is now on display in the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA with no closing date set.
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Burglars steal Maurizio Cattelan’s golden America toilet

In a pastoral part of central England known for its stately homes and greenery, burglars made off this week with a valuable, if fairly unusual, piece of art. The theft took place around 4:50 a.m. at Blenheim Palace, a monumental country house in Oxfordshire, just northwest of London. The target of the crime? America, a 2016 sculpture of a fully-functional toilet crafted in 18-carat gold by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.

The toilet, which was previously housed in an upper-level lavatory at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, had been installed in one of Blenheim’s wood-paneled restrooms as part of an exhibition of Cattelan’s work. It was connected to the estate’s plumbing system, enabling visitors to actually use it—rare moments of intimacy with an object valued at well over one million dollars. According to the Sunday Times, overnight security was relaxed because Edward Spencer-Churchill, the display’s organizer, did not consider the toilet a prime target for burglars. As he told reporters when the piece was installed in August, “It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick…Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate.” Neither factor seemed an adequate deterrent for the thieves last week.

The crime caused significant damage to the palace beyond the loss of the art itself, as from photos, it appears the thieves simply ripped the fixture from the wall and left. The ruptured piping spawned a minor flood and one of the doors to the room was completely destroyed. While the display is now cordoned off, the toilet has yet to be recovered, prompting concerns that it may have been melted down. Authorities claim that a group of offenders used two vehicles to carry out the burglary but have only arrested one 66-year-old man in connection with the crime.

Cattelan himself highlighted the irony of the incident, pointing out that he created America to give ordinary people direct access to an extraordinary object. As he told The New York Times this weekend, “America was the one percent for the 99 percent, and I hope it still is. I want to be positive and think the robbery is a kind of Robin Hood-inspired action. I wish it was a prank.”

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The Met updates its facade with Wangechi Mutu sculptures

The niches on the facade of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, empty for the institution's 117-year history, are now filled with artwork. On Monday, the museum unveiled the four bronze sculptures by Nairobi-born and Brooklyn-based artist Wangechi Mutu for the building's exterior fronting Fifth Avenue. The work, collectively titled The NewOnes, will free Us, is the first of The Met’s annual commissions intended to not only enliven the structure’s historic Beaux Arts exterior but to affirm the museum's commitment to showcasing a more contemporary and diverse repertoire. The sculptures represent four seated or kneeling figures with reflective golden disks (configured as a coiffure in one instance) bearing down on a head or covering a mouth and eyes in others. These disks show both a weighty burden, as well as a display of status and nobility inspired by the traditional dress of African women. Mutu's sculptures reference the canonical figure of the caryatid, a prevalent theme in both classical and African art. Whereas the caryatid has traditionally been a sculpted female form acting as structural support or embellishment, Mutu has brought her own mediation on the trope. Instead, her sculptures carry their own weight and emanate autonomy and regality. The facade commission presents an opportunity for the historic art institution to grapple with its place in the contemporary art world and shift away from its Eurocentric past. “What I am most grateful to Wangechi Mutu for is how this grand, temporary installation enables the Museum to continue our momentum on the important path of rethinking what an encyclopedic museum can and should provide, and how it can engage with the important notion of contemporaneity in a meaningful way,” said Max Hollein, the Met's director, in a statement about the inaugural commission. Mutu's sculptures will be on-view on Fifth Avenue until January 12, 2020.
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India's first sculpture park opens for a second season

India’s first public sculpture park opened last year in the sprawling Madhavendra Palace, a milestone for the country’s contemporary art scene. The palace's formal corridors and rooms have been curated as a uniquely rich pathway for visitors to The Sculpture Park to see new works of contemporary sculpture in each edition of the park’s programming. This year, 23 artists have brought new, often site-specific works to the palace, and over half of them live and work in India themselves.  “For most of my career as a gallerist and curator, I have been trying to break away from the white-box exhibition space,” 2019 edition curator Peter Nagy told Hyperallergic. “With this project, I am able to indulge my passions for art, architecture, and decor into a marvelous synthesis of the past and the present.”  Completed in 1892, the Palace is the best-preserved section of the Nahargarh Fort complex, which was designed to sit organically amongst the hills as a pleasure retreat for Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh, founder of the city of Jaipur. Twenty-three artists will explore ideas of landscape, politics, and colonialism in their works this year, amidst the backdrop of an Indian heritage landmark to create a striking context. From architectural explorations of the intersections of modern colonial and traditional styles to World War II radio relics, the pieces are varied in narrative as well as scale, but united by their common backdrop. The palace as sculpture park continues to exist as an example of public and private sectors working side-by-side for the proliferation of the arts. A collaboration between the Government of Rajasthan and Saat Saath Arts non-profit, The Sculpture Park states in its mission statement that the park is an example of an “India of the 21st century,” a "synthesis of the contemporary with the traditional, bringing art into the public realm and reclaiming public spaces.” But with works decrying hot-button issues such as the Kashmir border crises and the lingering effects of war and empire, it is difficult to see how the park's artists plan to work with governmental bodies to reform the topics this exhibition is expressing.  Yet, the public is responding. Just since the park’s opening, visitation to the palace has increased by 37 percent.
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Paris will install controversial Jeff Koons gift on the Champs-Élysées

Jeff Koons’s controversial sculpture Bouquet of Tulips was first proposed as a "donation" by the artist in 2016 and has only now found a home near the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Described as a “gift of remembrance” by the artist in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the city in the years of 2015 and 2016, the gargantuan proportions, cost, and proposed core location amongst top Parisian contemporary art institutions mired the project in controversy since its original announcement.  Originally, the bouquet was proposed to be installed outside the Palais de Tokyo, a museum location very popular with tourists, with views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. However, the backlash from the public, including a published letter by the French daily newspaper Libération, swayed officials to rethink the plan.  The letter listed grievances against the installation, among them arguments that the work was conceptualized as a “symbol of memory, optimism, and recovery,” but without any relation to the tragic events or their location. The 24 signatories, all professionals within the French art and architecture scenes, including a former culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, also cited that while he was a “brilliant and inventive creator in the 1980s, Jeff Koons has since become the emblem of an industrial art,” and that a work placed in an area of such high touristic visibility would amount to “advertising or product placement.” However, other factors like the 33-ton weight of the sculpture, came in to play as well, as the basement below the site may not have been able to withstand the pressure.  Koons only donated the concept of the 40-foot-tall sculpture—a hyper-realistic hand holding 11 "balloons" resembling tulip bulbs made from stone, polished stainless steel, bronze, and aluminum—while private donations and foundations financed the actual fabrication and eventual plans for installation. The project cost an estimated $3.5 million, but French taxpayers will be tapped for the sculpture’s protection and maintenance.  During the debates over the fate of the gift, the sculpture had been sitting finished in a German warehouse. Installation was only greenlit after a trip by Koons himself to Paris on August 23rd, where in three hours, the artist, his gallerist, Jérôme and Emmanuelle de Noirmont of Noirmontartproduction, and city officials came to the locational compromise. The bouquet is set to be installed by October 5, where it will debut during Paris’ nuit blanche, the citywide annual all-night art event.  While photography is strictly prohibited throughout the installation process, two of the bulbs have already been delivered by Arnold, a celebrated German metal fabricator known for its polished metal works—and while that shine is a trademark of the American artist, the new tulips will have a matte finish, “out of respect for the French people.” 
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Art on demolished Brooklyn Heights Library facade has found a new home

The art on the facade of the Brooklyn Heights Library has found a new home. Back in 2017, the old library building, a squat structure from the early 1960s that exuded WPA vibes, was demolished to make way for a luxury condo tower designed by New York's Marvel Architects. While the building itself wasn't much to look at, the art on its facade was most certainly was: six bas-reliefs by Italian sculptor Clemente Spampinato that playfully depicted industry and businesses; crafts; sciencesknowledge; literature; and arts. A BPL spokesperson confirmed over email that, per the original announcement, two of the six 10-by-11-foot panels will adorn a meeting room in the new library, which is slated to open in fall 2020. The other four panels will be the spolia in a to-be-planted garden outside the Walt Whitman Library, which is about a mile's walk from the branch in Brooklyn Heights at 280 Cadman Plaza West (or One Clinton, per the condo's branding). The new 26,600-square-foot Brooklyn Heights library space will sit within the Marvel Architects-designed building. The old library's demolition is part of a $300 million capital repair campaign that the Brooklyn Public Library estimates will generate $40 million in revenue for major repairs at other branches. There's certainly plenty of value locked into the building: At press time, a 900-square-foot one-bedroom was listed at $1.2 million, while the cheapest three-bedroom, a 2,000-square-foot 2.5 bath unit, is going for $3.1 million.
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Miniature undulating cityscape comes to Madison Square Park

Manhattan’s Madison Square Park has opened its 38th outdoor installation to the public today, dropping an evocative, interactive “cityscape” from sculptor Leonardo Drew into the park that will stay up until December 15. The 100-plus-foot-long City in the Grass stands as a solitary statement on its own but also makes ample reference to the city surrounding it, including the Empire State Building, which looms over the park. The piece is a tapestry of colors, textures, and materials that simultaneously evokes growth, comfort, ruins, and intimacy on the park’s Oval Lawn. Three stepped spires, the tallest of which tops out at 16 feet, anchor City in the Grass and are an obvious allusion to the Empire State Building to the north. Each spire is made from a mixture of plaster and latex paint, and Drew says that their eclectic appearance is a reference to Cuba’s dilapidated hotels, where peeling paint reveals the underlying structure. Surrounding each spire is an abstracted landscape of black and white wood offcuts of varying heights, reminiscent of buildings, but without a specific reference. These urban islands “float” in between waves of steel panels adorned in colored sand and patterned after Persian carpet designs, literalizing the “ebb and flow” of urban life through peaks and valleys. The peeling, layered look of the carpet, complete with holes and seams that let the grass below poke through, is meant to evoke the feeling of a familiar, well-worn home item. While the piece may look like it was assembled from found materials, Drew was quick to point out that he doesn’t use found objects; every piece and tear is deliberate. Drew is typically known for his wall pieces and City in the Grass is his first outdoor public installation. Appropriately enough, the piece is meant to encourage public interaction. While City in the Grass might look fragile, visitors are encouraged to sit, stand on, and explore it from every angle (just don’t climb on the spires). City in the Grass was commissioned by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. As the exhibition will remain up throughout the fall and winter, visitors can experience the materials weathering in real time in response to the natural landscape around it.
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Urs Fischer presents a dark domestic fairy tale at the Brant Foundation

The Swiss artist Urs Fischer has returned to The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, which first presented a solo show of his work in 2010, with ERROR, a surreal landscape of sculptures, paintings, and a full-scale cabin—partially made of slowly molding bread. Bread House had originally been staged in 2004 and has been reconstructed this time with (thankfully) new bread, which will again decay and rot and stink. The life-size alpine cabin is lined with rugs and is held together with the help of expanding foam and wood. (In some past iterations the house has been populated by young parakeets, which feed off the bread.) Other fairy-tale-esque domestic fixtures are also on display, though not within the walls of the yeasty home, including bed sculptures, like Kratz (2011), a bed collapsing under the weight of a pile of concrete, and Untitled (2011), a bed seemingly collapsing under the ghostly weight of nothing. Stranger still perhaps, there is Horse/Bed (2013), a deconstructed hospital bed merged with an aluminum horse, like some sort of sick harness. To create this eerie form, Fischer blended 3-D scans of a taxidermied workhorse and a hospital bed. There is, of course, seating too, like You Can Not Win (2003), a falling over plain plaster chair that’s been impaled by an over-four-foot-tall white BIC lighter. That might be comical, but more jarring is a fountain-cum-chair draped with a skeleton, pietà-style, called Invisible Mother (2015). All of these works—along with other sculptures, paintings, and mixed media objects—create a dreamlike (or nightmare-like, depending on your disposition) environment that overwhelms and confuses to giddying effect. URS FISCHER: ERROR The Brant Art Foundation Study Center Greenwich, CT Through October 14