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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Queensland Art Gallery Is Now Home to a Permanent (and Very Real) Snowman

A hit at GOMA's 'Water' exhibition over the summer of 2019–20, the frosty artwork has now taken up permanent residence in Queensland Art Gallery's sculpture courtyard.
By Sarah Ward
November 15, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
November 15, 2021
  shares

The kind of place where 18 degrees is considered freezing, Brisbane is hardly a snowman's natural habitat. But that's changed now that Queensland Art Gallery has welcomed in its very own icy figure — and, yes, it's made out of real snow.

If this sounds familiar, that's because Peter Fischli and David Weiss' Snowman first went on display in Brissie in the summer of 2019–20, thanks to the Gallery of Modern Art's eye-catching Water exhibition. Now, it's made a permanent home at Queensland Art Gallery, GOMA's sibling venue, so you can check it out all-year-round — yes, even in summer — in QAG's sculpture courtyard.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Snowman (1987/2017-19). Copyright: Peter Fischli David Weiss, Zurich 2019. Courtesy Spruth Magers, Matthew Marks New York and Los Angeles, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich.

Quite the frosty sight to behold, the piece dates back to 1987. First conceived as part of a site-specific work at a German thermic power plant, the fairly typical-looking snowman is made from three balls of snow, with the top one boasting hand-drawn eyes and a mouth.

What's not typical of this well-travelled snowman, however, is its ability to survive even Brisbane's subtropical climate. It sits encased in a glass and metal industrial freezer — so, while QAG visitors can definitely see the frosty sculpture, you absolutely can't touch it.

Peter Fischli. Switzerland, b.1952. David Weiss. Switzerland, 1946-2012. Snowman 1987/2019 (installation view, GOMA). © Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Zürich 2019. Courtesy: Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London/Los Angeles; Matthew Marks, New York/Los Angeles; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich. Photograph: Natasha Harth, QAGOMA.

That said, lucky gallery staff members have been given the task of retracing its eyes and smile every few days — so this snowman always has a face. As a result, you can expect to see the artwork's enigmatic expression shift subtly over time from happy to quizzical to maybe even diabolical.

When Snowman first brought its literal chill to Brissie in 2019, it marked the piece's first-ever visit to the Southern Hemisphere. Only four versions of the work exist worldwide and, understandably, it's usually exhibited in locations where it's much, much colder — including at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Snowman is now permanently at Queensland Art Gallery, Stanley Place, South Brisbane. For more information, head to the QAG website.

Top image: Peter Fischli. Switzerland, b.1952. David Weiss. Switzerland, 1946-2012. Snowman 1987/2019 (installation view, GOMA). © Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Zürich 2019. Courtesy: Sprüth Magers, Berlin/London/Los Angeles; Matthew Marks, New York/Los Angeles; Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich. Photograph: QAGOMA.

Published on November 15, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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