Sylvie Fleury

b. 1961, Switzerland

Sylvie Fleury (b. 1961) is a contemporary Swiss artist whose installation, sculpture, and mixed media work deals with our sentimental and aesthetic attachments to consumerist culture. Emerging in the 1990s, Fleury’s early “shopping bag” installations laid the foundations for a body of work that became as provocative as it is playful. Fleury heralded a new artistic trend by subverting the codes of consumption, creating an interplay between fashion and art, while interrogating the relationship between desire and fetishism.
Fleury’s work exploits the ambiguity of superficiality, exploring subversions, paradoxes, truths and values via materialistic components she deems symptomatic of our epoch— particularly luxury clothing and accessories, makeup, race cars, icons of modern and contemporary art (from Marcel Duchamp to Piet Mondrian to Andy Warhol), magazines, television and media, and other objects drawn from everyday life. Employing common modern advertising strategies, including slogans, bright colours and attention-grabbing presentation, she examines the curious interchange between high-end luxury and trash culture, all the while manipulating the visuals of the modern economy. Moreover, she openly refers to the concept of fetishism in a manner that is largely ignored by modern visual culture.

Trademark bronze sculptures of high heels and handbags are cast in chrome, radiating an atmosphere of excess while focussing on the seductive superficiality of fashion, advertising and design. Re-appropriating items and slogans from high fashion and its dedicated mass media, as well as re-appropriating ideas from high art, enables Fleury’s deft critique of these subjects in challenging the viewer to re-think their views on both fashion and art. Her attention to the banal accoutrements of consumerism pokes fun at our consumption of such objects; and the items take on a cheeky double meaning as artworks, being equally banal in nature, and yet more seductive through their association with the luxury of the art market and museum or gallery space. Her oeuvre reflects and anticipates her epoch as much as it participates within it, thus lending her work a Warholian wit and ambiguity.

If irreverence characterizes much of her work, she just as often shows her detailed knowledge of recent art history, embracing, re-appropriating, and satirising work from key artistic movements and artists, such as Duchamp, Mondrian and Warhol, modernists Daniel Buren and Donald Judd. Intriguingly, Fleury reserves her satirical approach for male artists, probing the grandiose machismo of modern art. Her commentary on gender politics works two ways, through both the art market and the relentless consumerism of our era.



Sylvie Fleury: S.F.

Sprüth Magers
22 Sep-4 Nov 2023