This Is a House Made of Bread
Bloomberg Businessweek|September 20, 2021
At the much-anticipated return of Art Basel, Urs Fischer’s tactile wonder will attract plenty of attention. But if it were a simple painting, would it attract more dollars?
James Tarmy

In 2004 the artist Urs Fischer started to build prototypes of a 16.4-foot-high gingerbread-style house made from about 2,500 loaves of bread. It was a process, he says, filled with trial and error: Binding agents including marzipan and raw dough were attempted and discarded (too unstable) until he discovered polyurethane foam was the ideal mortar.

The house was constructed on an open outdoor lot in Vienna, where eventually the daily delivery of dumpsters filled with bread began to draw attention from passersby. Their reaction, to Fischer’s surprise, was a combination of incredulity and outrage. “Austria’s a very Catholic country,” he says, “and everyone there thought the bread was somehow about the body of Christ.”

But when he actually exhibited the work, called Untitled (Bread House), at the New York gallery Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, “the discussion there was all about carbohydrates,” Fischer says. “At which point I gave up with whatever it ‘should’ be about.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

Black Hairstyles Need Protection

In most U.S. states, employers and schools are allowed to discriminate against box braids, locs, and other traditional styles. A coalition of activists and legislators has started to change that.

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

High Stakes On the Lake

Justin Bibb wants to be Cleveland’s next mayor. If he beats Kevin Kelley, he’ll inherit serious problems—and a windfall to fix them

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Can twitter get us to be nice?

Social networks are all designed to make people angry and keep them coming back for more. Now, one of the worst offenders is trying to be less of a hellscape

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Let's Make Covid Testing Part of Our Morning Routine

A Harvard immunologist champions low-cost, at-home rapid tests to beat the pandemic

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Big Sky's Moment of Glory

The most rugged resort in Montana gets speedy lifts, luxury hotels, and fine dining to match its extreme slopes

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Homeopath, heal thyself

Natalie Grams believed—really believed—in the healing power of homeopathy. Then a health crisis of her own forced the German physician to question her faith

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Stuck on the Sidelines of The U.S. Job Market

Conversations with some of the 5 million out-of-work Americans shed light on why so many jobs are going begging

8 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

DE-radicalizing the Extremists

Parents for Peace enlists ex-believers to help families win back loved ones drawn to Islamism, QAnon, and other ideologies. Demand has never been higher

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

The Hunt for the Most Lucrative Patients

Privately run Medicare Advantage programs get paid more when members look sicker—even if they don’t receive more care

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021

Wall Street's Toughest Turnaround

Jane Fraser is rethinking Citigroup and what it means to work at a megabank

7 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 18 - 25, 2021