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Descriptive text for Katharina Fritsch Madonnenfigur (Madonna) (1982), Walker Art Center.


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
At first glance, many of Katharina Fritsch's sculptures may not appear to be very different from objects sold at thrift stores and tourist shops. Like the commercial items they bring to mind, Fritsch produced these sculptures in large quantities. Such mass-produced, three-dimensional art objects are known as multiples, yet unlike their industrial counterparts, each and every one of Fritsch's sculptures is an original work of art.

On closer examination, it becomes apparent that Fritsch has elevated these objects above their associated environments by her fastidious attention to form and color. The artist based this work on a Madonna sold near the cathedral in Lourdes, France, but it's pretty clear that you wouldn't find this fluorescent figurine for sale there. The brilliant yellow color and the figure's fixed, frontal pose work together to visually flatten the three-dimensionality of this work, removing it ever so slightly from the realm of traditional sculpture as well as its original context.

As you examine the other sculptures it becomes clear that Fritsch takes inspiration from many different environments, yet in each instance she manages to create a strange tension between the familiar and the odd, life and art, mass-produced and unique art objects.

Katharina Fritsch discusses the value of the Madonna figure in her work
"First, the Madonna is just a plaster figure, not Mary herself. To that extent the plaster figure is just as much a thing as a vase is. Of course the plaster figure symbolizes something, even something unique. The uniqueness disappears in my work, but essentially it disappears long before, in every souvenir shop. And the strange thing now is that every individual plaster figure does retain a certain aura, even in quantity."

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Source: Descriptive text for Katharina Fritsch Madonnenfigur (Madonna) (1982), Walker Art Center.
Rights: Copyright 1998 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009