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Katharina Fritsch

April 21, 2012–November 11, 2012
Bluhm Family Terrace

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.”

Born in Essen, Germany, Fritsch trained at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where she continues to live and work.


Katharina Fritsch is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago with major funding from the Bluhm Family Endowment Fund, which supports exhibitions of modern and contemporary sculpture. This exhibition was created with funds from the Prince Prize for Commissioning Original Work, which was awarded to Katharina Fritsch and the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011.

Generous support is provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, Melinda and Paul Sullivan, and the Trott Family Foundation.

Katharina Fritsch's installation on the Bluhm Family Terrace.