Katharina Fritsch

Art on This Day


Today is the birthday of German artist and sculptor Katharina Fritsch, born on February 14th, 1956.


Katharina Fritsch is known for her large-scale sculptures representing familiar objects with an unexpected and disorienting sensibility. Her iconography is rooted in Christianity, art history and folklore. She first attracted international attention in the mid-'80s with life-size works such as a true-to-scale elephant. One of the remarkable features of Katharina Fritsch’s work is its ability to capture the popular imagination by its immediate appeal. Colour plays a special role in her work which has roots in her childhood, when she visited her grandfather, a salesman for Faber-Castell art supplies, whose garage was well-stocked with his wares.


Her most recognized works are Rattenkönig/Rat King (1993), a giant circle of black polyester rats, included in the Venice Biennale in 1999. Other works include Hahn/Cock (2010), a 4.3m cockerel in ultramarine blue shown on London's Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth, in July 2013.

In her working process, Katharina Fritsch combines the techniques of traditional sculpture with those of industrial production. While many of her early works were handcrafted, Fritsch now makes only the models for her sculptures and then hands these over to a factory for production. She uses these models to create moulds, from which the final sculptures are cast in materials such as plaster, polyester and aluminium, and multiple casts are taken from one mould.



Her first major exhibition in the U.S. was held at Dia Center for Arts in 1993. In 1995 Katharina Fritsch represented Germany in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Her work has since been the subject of exhibitions at Tate Modern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Katharina Fritsch's work is currently represented in the permanent collections of the MOMA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and the Museum Brandhorst in Munich.