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If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture?
Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli

Ongoing from June 11

The Museum of Modern Art

This summer, Snowman, a sculpture composed of an actual snowman encased in a glass-door freezer, by Peter Fischli (Swiss, b. 1952) and his longtime collaborator David Weiss (Swiss, 1946–2012), comes to the Museum’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden as part of Fischli’s Artist’s Choice presentation. Here, Fischli borrows a question inscribed on a painting presented outdoors by artist Ben Vautier (French, b. 1935): “If everything is sculpture why make sculpture?” Along with Snowman, nearly 20 objects selected by Fischli offer answers to this question.

Initiated in 1989, the Artist’s Choice series invites contemporary artists to organize exhibitions drawn from MoMA’s collection. Fischli is the 13th artist to participate in the series, and the first to do so in the Sculpture Garden.

Snowman (2016) is an updated version of a 1987 site-specific work by Fischli and Weiss that was commissioned by a German thermic power plant whose energy—in the form of heat, paradoxically—was used to keep the snowman perpetually frozen. Though a snowman is, as Fischli observes, a “sculpture that almost anyone can make” simply by rolling three spheres of snow and setting them atop one another, Fischli and Weiss’s Snowman is dependent on a technically complex apparatus for its year-round subsistence. Over the course of three decades of collaboration, Fischli and Weiss shared an interest in exploring inherent contradictions and the extraordinary potential of everyday objects and situations.

Snowman takes on new associations in the setting of MoMA’s Sculpture Garden and in the company of works that span the last century, by artists from Henri Matisse and Aristide Maillol to Tony Smith and Katharina Fritsch. Together, Snowman and its companions testify to the expansive possibilities for sculpture today, and to the role of museums in nurturing and preserving their collections.

Organized by Peter Fischli and Cara Manes, Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture.

The Artist’s Choice exhibition series is made possible through The Agnes Gund Artist’s Choice Fund endowed by Iara Lee and George Gund III, Lulie and Gordon Gund, Ann and Graham Gund, and Sarah and Geoffrey Gund.

Generous funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund.

Images

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Peter Fischli and David Weiss. Snowman. 1987/2016. Copper, aluminum, glass, water, and coolant system, 85 7/8 x 50 3/8 x 65″ (218 x 128 x 165 cm). Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. © Peter Fischli and David Weiss

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Dennis Doorly.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Robert Gerhardt.

Installation view of the exhibition If Everything Is Sculpture Why Make Sculpture? Artist’s Choice: Peter Fischli. Ongoing from June 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Digital Image © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Dennis Doorly.