Artist David Weiss dies aged 66

The Swiss artist was known for his collaborations with Peter Fischli, with whom he won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Biennale in 2003

The Swiss artist David Weiss has died aged 66. Weiss earned an international reputation in partnership with fellow artist Peter Fischli, with whom he started working in 1979. The pair had a retrospective at London's Tate Modern in 2006 and were recently ranked 26th in a list of the world's 100 most important artists by the German publication Manager Magazin.

Based in Zurich, Fischli and Weiss's work took in sculpture, installation, film and photography, exploring what critics called "the poetics of banality" with a deadpan wit. Their first work was a series of photographs ranging from a fashion show to a car crash in which sausages took the roles of people. Their most famous piece was a half-hour film made in 1987 called Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go), which set household objects such as kettles and stepladders in a chain reaction of increasingly manic slapstick scenes. A subsequent advert by Honda borrowed from it heavily.

In 2003 the pair won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Biennale for Questions, in which 1,000 enquiries were projected on to the wall, three at a time, ranging from "Is it true that traces of aliens have been found in yoghurt?" to "Can I restore my innocence?" The final room in Weiss and Fischli's Tate retrospective was what appeared to be an unfinished installation strewn with rubbish – except the cigarette ends, planks and dirty pallets were all created by the artists.

Reviewing their Tate show, the Guardian's critic Adrian Searle said that Fischli and Weiss "celebrate the normal. Normal pleasures, normal fears, normal wonders and irritations." Their two early-80s films The Least Resistance and The Right Way saw the pair take to the streets of LA and the mountain roads of the Alps dressed as a bear and a rat in road movies which, said Searle, are "a record of friendship, futility and stoicism".

Weiss's gallerist said that while they had known the artist was undergoing treatment for cancer, his death, which was announced on Friday, had been relatively unexpected.


Alex Needham

The GuardianTramp

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