He’s been lauded around the world as an “art-world rock star,” but 36-year-old Swiss artist Urs Fischer insists his work is rooted in the simplest of instincts.

“I just like doing stuff, basically,” he says with an exhalation of cigarette smoke and a wry grin. “If you want a layman’s term, that’s as basic as it gets. I enjoy doing stuff.”

There’s obviously a lot more to the equation, but it all comes naturally for Fischer, whose choice of unconventional objects and presentation — including anything from rotting fruit to melting life-size wax figures, to putting a gaping hole in a gallery floor and in the walls of a Zurich museum — provoke strong emotions from art-world insiders and the uninitiated alike.


As complex in theory as his work might be, Fischer adds that the processes of nature inform his aesthetic.

“Anything in nature is cooler than anything you do. That’s just the way it is,” he says. “Even mold can look pretty if you don’t think about eating the slice of toast rotting in the fridge. They have very good colors.”

Fischer’s current landmark exhibition, “Urs Fischer: Marguerite de Ponty” at the New Museum, is his first large-scale solo show in the U.S. The installation includes a prosthetic tongue that pops out of a wall when it senses someone approaching. Also featured is a croissant moon, which seems to point to Fischer’s joyful sense of humor.

“It’s a morning snack, no? It looks nice. It’s a pleasurable thing to have,” he says. “I see it this way more than from the other way around of ‘what can I use? Ah, I’ll use a croissant.’ It’s more that I like a croissant.”

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