Chicago, Art Institute, Modern Wing (Sculptor: Katharina Frisch)
Katharina Fritsch roots her work in the personal, often drawing from childhood memories of familiar circumstances or chance encounters. Her references engage broad aspects of folklore and culture through meticulous reproductions of everyday objects, which she formally manipulates with shifts in scale and color. Made strange by repetition and siting, her sculptural installations are both seductive and disturbing. In the Proustian sense of activating memory, Fritsch’s works create an unnerving familiarity that is subsequently destabilized by the realization that we are seeing a form, a character, or an object for the very first time.
While Fritsch’s painstakingly handcrafted objects are easily mistaken for manufactured items, the artist employs a complicated and time-consuming fabrication process that begins with sketches and scale models. Molded by hand, worked and reworked, each object is subjected to multiple processes of casting or layering. The completed yet still idiosyncratic forms are then painted in bold, highly saturated colors with matte, nonreflective surfaces, creating a sense of otherworldliness. In Fritsch’s words, “Often my sculptures have a matte surface so that there is no reflection whatsoever from the surroundings. That increases the impression of a vision that one cannot grasp.”