Leo DiCaprio Isn’t the First Celebrity to Get a Wax Portrait Done by Urs Fischer

Leo (George & Irmelin), 2019, by Urs Fischer. Gagosian Gallery/Facebook

Some artists completely eschew the spotlight, preferring lives of solitude and reclusion where they can convince themselves that the intoxicating pull of celebrity never seduced them. Urs Fischer, bless him, is not one of these artists. This week, the Swiss-born contemporary visual art star debuted a new exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Paris that was simply titled “Leo” in reference to a new sculpture Fischer had created. The show overall has to do with themes of impermanence and slow disillusionment, and three semi-intertwined wax figurines that make up Leo (George & Irmelin) represent the superstar actor Leonardo DiCaprio and his parents, George DiCaprio (himself a former performance artist) and Irmelin Indenbirken.

“Leo initially approached me to do a portrait—some people approach me, you know,” Fischer told Artnet this week in Paris. “I know him, and I know everybody that I make the portraits of in one way or another. And I thought for a second, and I asked if he could do it with his parents. He said yeah, he was totally game, it was cool all the way. We all met, and we tried to figure out, and we went in with an open mind.”

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Indeed, this sculpture is certainly not the first wax “portrait” Fischer has made of a celebrity or art world luminary. In 2017, he collaborated with pop star Katy Perry on a sculpture of her that passersby were allowed to add to with clay; in 2018, he made a beautiful wax sculpture of Garage magazine and Garage Museum founder Dasha Zhukova that rendered the publishing mogul and collector in a ravishing pink dress.

This new sculpture of Leo and his parents, however, seems to telegraph a flavor of ambiguity that feels new for Fischer. For a man who once dug a hole in Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, this family sculpture is actually pretty subtle: the pink wax actor embraces his mother while simultaneously conversing with his father, who is passionate but apart. Not bad, Fischer. You have to wonder what Leo thinks.

Leo DiCaprio Isn’t the First Celebrity to Get a Wax Portrait Done by Urs Fischer