Human Interest

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide highlights selected works in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection, with commentary by students from PS 33 Chelsea Prep and Whitney Museum educator Melanie Adsit.

Urs Fischer, _Standing Julian_, 2015. Wax, pigment, steel, and wicks, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of an anonymous donor T.2016.201 © Urs Fischer

Melanie Adsit: What can you tell me about the person in this portrait?

Student: Wait, I thought I saw smoke come from the top. Yeah, I saw gas.

Melanie Adsit: [laughs] I'm going to tell you right now that there is smoke coming from the top, but can we hold that thought for just a minute.

Student: He looks like a very busy man. He might be a painter or someone who works hard, someone who might not have as much because looking at his shirt, romper, jumpsuit thing, it has different colors on it which might have been paint because he might be a painter.

Melanie Adsit: This is a portrait of a painter, a sculptural portrait of a painter named Julian Schnabel. The artist Urs Fischer made a portrait of someone who was a friend of his. When he was making this portrait of his friend, did he make him look realistic or did he change some things?


Student: He looks extremely larger than normal people might look.


Student: Ever heard the saying larger than life? Maybe he looks up to this person as someone that he respects.


Melanie Adsit: Let's go around and look at the back because I feel like we'll get a different perspective from behind.

Melanie Adsit: As you can see, this sculpture is made out of wax. It actually, is a candle—a giant candle. Every day, when the Museum opens, we light this candle. Every day, this sculpture burns down a little more. What's this sculpture going to look like in three months?

Student: I think the sculpture might not have a head anymore. It might show that he keeps on disappearing, the big guy, the important person.


Student: I think it shows that even the best person, like the most inspirational are going to pass at some point, and that nothing is forever.

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