Peter Fischli / David Weiss

Floral Seduction

“To be frank, there is nothing more superficial than pictures of flowers. Yet by the same token, there is nothing more beautiful than a garden in bloom.” Or so Zurich-based artistic tandem, Peter Fischli and David Weiss would have it. Their claim comes as a bit of a surprise in light of the fact that over the last few years they seem to have concerned themselves almost encyclopedically with flower motifs. And to be even more frank, there is nothing more trivial than double exposures – that first attempt by budding amateur photographers to be artistic. Serious artists simply do not do such things, or, if there is no way of avoiding it, then at least with Photoshop on-screen. Fischli/Weiss have to pass here, too. The color composition is all they have retouched in their photos – the double exposures are deliberate. “We were interested in the element of chance,” says Peter Fischli. And David Weiss continues: “When the photographs come off, it’s like receiving a gift.” After all, works of this kind are not at the artist’s fingertips. Like a garden that needs green thumbs, carefully tending, and, quite simply, luck. Not that the pictures have much to do with nature, given that they emphasize domestication.

Beauty and beastly banality, coincidence and manipulation, art and nature, provocation and decoration: these are the sets of poles between which the Fischli/Weiss flower pictures oscillate. “On the theoretical side, the photographs tread on rather thin ice,” admits Peter Fischli. And David Weiss affirms: “In fact, they tread quite a thin line: we want to seduce viewers with floral opulence. But you can’t exactly view them ingenuously, either.”

Biographical information

Peter Fischli

1952

Peter Fischli was born in Zurich

1976

Academia die Belle Arti, Urbino

1977

Academia di Belle Arti, Bologna

1979

Beginning of the collaboration of both artists

live and work in Zurich

David Weiss

1964

David Weiss was born in Zurich

1964

Vorkurs, Kunstgewerbeschule, Zurich

1965

Kunstgewerbeschule, Basel (sculpture class)

1979

Beginning of the collaboration of both artists

live and work in Zurich