SCULPTURE brings together a grouping of individual sculptural works by R.M. Fischer (b. Brooklyn, NY, 1947). Anchored by the 1980 “Lampwork”, Rocker, the show spans to the present, predominantly including sculptures of the last six years. It demonstrates the breadth of form, material and reference that mark his practice, itself having traversed territories of art, design, craft, commercial display, mechanics, fashion, architecture and public art since the late 1970s.
R. M. Fischer is well into the second phase of his artistic career. The first occurred when he was a young, emerging artist affiliated with the Neo-Geo tendency of the 1980s, becoming known for jokey futuristic lamps and fountains made from metal rods, brass knobs and everyday objects like colanders and cooking pots. They reflected an inveterate tinkerer and bricolagist who re-emerged, softened, in the early 2000s with crudely stitched stuffed sculptures. Involving brightly colored vinyl and cannibalized parts of Mr. Fischer’s earlier work, these efforts were fierce and endearing, with a cartoonish, even monsterish mien.” Roberta Smith, NY Times, R.M. Fischer : Life Force, 2014
The title of the exhibition is for Fischer an expression of respect for sculptural tradition and concurrent challenging of it. Central to his work is a questioning of the art object and its status, a motivation running through all aspects of his decisions, from the range of materials used, usually from parts at hand, to diversified modes of display. In the late 1970s and early ‘80s he would simultaneously install shows in galleries and shop windows – an acknowledgement of, freedom with and response to context, that threaded also in to the success of the major commissions and outdoor installations with his public art practice.
For the last decade Fischer’s starting point for sculpture is predominantly the human, intuitively materialising anthropomorphic figures / creatures, created as characters, with distinct personalities and potentially expressing and eliciting of emotional response – humour, melancholy, strength, vulnerability. He does not guide the reading of the works beyond his own realisation however, giving them arbitrary archival numbers and preferring the viewer to form associations. Their varying characterisations and untitled status also connect with their democratisation as art objects, each created equally, across differences of scale, material, suggested reference.
These works comprise elements of softness - high-end furnishing fabrics, car upholstery vinyl - wrapped, draped, hand-sewn, fastened and bolted, threaded, stretched and clipped around predominantly recycled steel, also wood, armatures and bases. They revel in the co-existence of hard and soft, industrial and craft. Some of the most recent sculptures include Fischer having drawn in oil marker on to a wall-mounted aluminium base to which is attached plumbing valves and illuminated by an antique lamp ; constructed pedestals of stained barn wood ; a pyramidial structure encased in Victorian furnishing fabrics lit up from within ; and flattened, caped super-hero like forms, arranged across monumental steel frameworks formerly used as shelving brackets.
The visible layering of contemporary and vintage (plumbing, lamp, furnishing) parts, the latter sourced since the ‘80s, combined with reconstitution of elements from past sculptures recycled in to new works, in tandem with visual reminiscence (folk art, cartoon, sci-fi, dressmaking, Art Deco and Victorian décor), and the freedom of virtuosic skill across all forms, combine to render the work almost time-less. They embody a consistent bringing in of the real world, past, present, and even suggestive of a stitched together cyborg futurism.
R.M. Fischer lives and works in New York. Earlier this year his solo show Lampworks was at Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami, and work was included in MIDTOWN, organised by Maccarone and Salon 94 at the Leverhouse, New York, exploring the relationship between art and design. His work will be included in the forthcoming exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, curated by Gianni Jetzer at the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C. (2018). Fischer has exhibited widely since the late 1970s, including solo shows at Artists Space (1979), Art et Industrie and Holly Solomon Gallery (1980), Whitney Museum of American Art (1984), Sidney Janis (1991), Deitch Projects (1998), KS ART (2009 and 2011), and numerous group shows including Everything That’s Interesting is New, curated by Jeffrey Deitch, DESTE Foundation (1996), Threshold, Serralves Foundation, Porto (1995), Modern Detour with Laurie Simmons and Peter Halley, Secession Vienna (1990), Luso-American Encounters for Contemporary Art, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (1989), Science Fiction curated by Peter Halley, John Weber Gallery, New York (1983) and Whitney Biennals in 1987 and 1983. His work is held in numerous public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Art Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Jewish Museum, The New Museum, New York, The Carnegie Museum of Fine Art, Philadelphia, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Texas, Tamayo Museum, Mexico City, Fundação Serralves, Porto, Dakis Joannou DESTE Foundation, Athens, The Broad Foundation, Los Angeles, the Rubell Family Collection, Miami. Fischer’s public art commissions are acclaimed and emblematic throughout the USA.