- Digital Formats
Polyester, paint, wood, plaster
90cm high, Ø 160cm and 240 x 100 x 100cm 1992/94
A conspiratorial circle, or a moment of discharging before mutual attack?
Eight black panthers are seated opposite each other in a circle. Nobody is allowed in their midst. Frozen in polyester is not only the moment of snarling: their bodies are life-size and identical in appearance. This moment of muscular tension is contrasted by a high, shelf-like white platform with eight small white figures. They are replicas of devotional objects depicting St. Catherine of Siena, holding a lily and a rosary. The intermediate spaces give rhythm to the ensemble, which is also arranged in a circle, and make it appear to be in motion.
Viewed individually, the figures appear strangely familiar. If you search for the term 'panther sculpture' on the internet, you will find numerous variants of decorative figures, made of either shiny porcelain or artificial stone. The artist Katharina Fritsch took one of these mass-produced commodities as a model and enlarged it many times over. Her inspiration is the everyday: she doesn't devalue decorations, knick-knacks or devotional items, but rather elevates them through an elaborate manufacturing process and perfectly symmetrical staging.
The circular shape and symmetrical arrangement of identical objects, which have become Fritsch's basic motif, let familiarity tip over into the mysterious and uncanny. The monochrome matt black of the panthers, which absorbs all light and prevents the surroundings from being reflected, and the super-elevated snow-white devotional figures, reinforce this ambivalent moment between familiarity and repulsion, wit and anxiety.
The combined presentation of Fritsch's Panther and shelf with 8 figures and her earlier work Wühltisch (Bargain Table) (1987/89) was part of the ifa touring exhibition 'Embodied Logos: 14 women artists from Germany'. Panther and shelf with 8 figures has been on view in the ifa exhibition 'Travelling the World' since 2013. In 1995 Katharina Fritsch showed her extensive work Museum alongside works by Martin Honert and Thomas Ruff at the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Text: Laura Wünsche