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gallery view from inside room looking toward door
Courtesy Walker Art Center
gallery view from inside room looking toward door Image Rights
Image Rights
gallery view from inside room looking toward door
Courtesy Walker Art Center
Copyright retained by the artist


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Empty Room
Peter Fischli, David Weiss
see element sizes × × inches
polyurethane, paint
Not on view

Object Details

Accession Number
Physical Description
construction tools and objects replicated from the Walker crews’ construction materials
Credit Line
T. B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1996

object label Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Empty Room (1995-1996) Walker Art Center, 1999

David Weiss: For me the main focus with the objects is that you “see something” that you also know is not there. Of course, it is there, but the chair is not a chair, the table is not a table. Or it’s not there as what we usually know about these objects. You can’t use them because their functions are lost.

Peter Fischli: It is just the surface of these things that you make believe is there.–from a conversation with Rirkrit Tiravanija, 1996

Peter Fischli and David Weiss are Swiss artists who are obsessed by everyday things so ordinary that they tend to be overlooked and, in their minds, undervalued. Their ongoing preoccupation with the banal and their ingenious explorations of the commonplace have taken a wide variety of forms, including sculptures, photographs, films, and videos. In each case, the artists try to recapture an almost childlike wonder with our surrounding environment.

This installation follows in the long artistic tradition of trompe l'oeil–a French expression that literally means to “deceive the eye”–in which objects are depicted in highly realistic detail. While it appears that the installation crew has not yet finished its work, this is in fact an illusion. The space is the work of art: each object was carefully hand-carved by the artists from polyurethane (a material similar to Styrofoam) and then painted. These objects are modeled on materials found in the Walker’s basement during the production of its Fischli and Weiss retrospective as well as on items used by the artists in their studio in Z├╝rich.

Walker solo exhibition: Peter Fischli and David Weiss: In a Restless World, 1995

Label text for Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Empty Room (1995-1996), from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.

Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center