For a few years now, Leonardo DiCaprio has been a vocal environmental activist, working to raise awareness about the catastrophic effects of global warming. More specifically, and as seen in his 2016 documentary Before the Flood, DiCaprio focused on showing the dramatic speed at which polar glaciers are melting. DiCaprio now finds himself melting, or at least, an Urs Fischer wax replica of him in Gagosian’s Paris gallery, after the Swiss artist modelled his latest life-sized candle work after DiCaprio himself.
DiCaprio isn’t Fischer’s first celebrity to be transformed into a massive candle, which has become somewhat of a signature move for the artist, whose full intention behind the works is for them to naturally burn to the ground. Fischer most recently created a larger-than-life size wax candle depicting Dasha Zhukova, a personal friend of his and esteemed art collector, at Gagosian in London. Zhukova slowly melted over the course of the exhibition and was ultimately reduced to a pile of wax drippings.
Created in a soft palette of white and pale pink, with much care taken to perfectly recreate the folds and creases of fabric in the subjects’ clothes, the sculpture has already been set alight. The wick above one of the two Leo’s is slowly dripping black wax down his T-shirt. As the ephemeral work slowly melts away over the course of the show, the piece will become lined with black, creating a transformative effect.
Fischer’s sculptures are always captivating in their wax form but haunting as they melt away. They serve as meditations on time, life and death. Watching DiCaprio, or any of Fischer’s wax figures, slowly reduce to a pile of wax, viewers are quickly reminded of the transience of life, beauty and art.
Intriguingly, DiCaprio isn’t depicted alone, but with his parents, George DiCaprio and Irmelin Indenbirken, who divorced a year after he was born. DiCaprio was mostly raised by his mom, who is often seen with him at awards ceremonies, and sometimes art openings.
While the work is for sale, DiCaprio commissioned it from Urs and will receive an artist’s proof, as per usual with Fischer’s subjects. The images were apparently drawn from real interactions between the three of them, as they all posed together and were scanned by Fischer.