Sculpture Garden

7 / 10

Katharina Fritsch. Group of Figures. 2006-08 (fabricated 2010-11) 116

Painted stainless steel, painted bronze, and painted copper electrotype filled with resin and fiberglass, Dimensions variable. Gift of Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann (Laurenz Foundation). © 2024 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Curator, Ann Temkin: Katharina Fritsch’s Group of Figures--nine of them--upend our idea of contemporary sculpture in so many ways. When you think of how sculpture monuments usually are, it’s one big hero, or one saint, one martyr. And here she has a whole assemblage kind of lined up like Phallynx, almost as if they’re in a theater production taking their curtain call. You have these characters that absolutely cannot be related one to the other. One of them is an angel, one of them is a bishop, one of them is the Virgin Mary. And then you have just a vase or a skeleton pair of feet.

This giant figure holding a big club, in fact the model for him was a taxi driver in Katharina Fritsch’s town of Dusseldorf, Germany where she lives.

One of the amazing things about this as a group of sculptures of course is its color. This is something Fritsch has explored always in her work, bringing to modern sculpture an element of delight in color and delight in really bright, vivid color. Sculpture has a really strong and rich history over the centuries of being colorful. Greek sculpture that we think of as white was colored at the time that it was made. These different elements of color along with the lack of color in some of the other creatures here adds one of the real elements of strangeness to the whole group.

They’re so realistically made that when you see them you kind of believe that they are actual figures and I think that’s one of the reasons so many people are inclined to stand with them and take their own photograph in the group it’s kind of like even though you have no idea what this group of characters is up to you kind of want to be part of it.