The work of Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss can seem fiercely academic at times but it always contains a thread of narrative that pulls you in and that deepens and expands the longer you look at it.
Their current installation at Sprüth Magers gallery, Berlin, ‘Sonne, Mond und Sterne’ (Sun, Moon and Stars), named after a nursery song, is a presentation of a commission by Swiss media conglomerate Ringier AG to design their 2007 annual report. For the piece, Fischli and Weiss tore 800 full page ads from a huge range of magazines and have arranged them into a pattern that is a ‘kind of visual encyclopedia of late capitalism’, reflecting as it does the mores and aspirations of the contemporary consumer.
Fischli calls it a ‘psychogram of a certain moment of society’ and the show is certainly made more poignant by the current economic climate. The hefty catalogue, weighing in at over 4kg, would make a fine addition to the bookshelf but could also double up in an emergency as fitting fuel should a true economic ice age set in.
Monica Sprüth and Philomene Magers are the grand dames of the German gallery scene. They founded their separate galleries in Cologne in 1983 and 1991 respectively before joining formidable forces in a merger in the mid-1990s and opening branches in Munich and London.
Their choice of artists has a strong emphasis on theoretical discourse – and the majority of work shown packs a strong intellectual punch – which means that over the years they have a collected an influential who’s who of contemporary artists from Rosemary Trockel, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Donald Judd, John Baldessari and Dan Flavin to Andreas Gursky, Thomas Demand and Sylvie Fleurie.
This autumn, Sprüth and Magers decided to consolidate their gallery interests in Germany in a new space in Berlin-Mitte. The new gallery – a former ballroom in a tucked-away courtyard, Oranienburger Straße – has been stripped down in a superbly restrained conversion by architects Barkow Leibinger and is well worth visiting for the minimal architecture alone.
Thanks to Wallpaper for the article.