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In 2010, following his successful New Museum show, Urs Fischer was contacted by his New York dealer Gavin Brown, who said that a U.S. collector was desperate for a small work by the artist for his home. Fischer had nothing finished that would suit the rather small dimensions that the collector specified, so Brown suggested that the artist create a new work using his signature medium of rotting food. Fischer offered a single stick of butter on a saucer, titling the piece “Maria Schneider,” and stating that the slow melting of the butter would be an ironic commentary on the presumed permanence of the art object, as well as a tongue-and-cheek reference to Dal√≠’s melting clocks. The joke was on Brown, however, as Fischer actually made the work out of a shelf-stable margarine, so that it did not melt. By the time the hoax was uncovered, Brown had sold “Maria Schneider” for $17,000.

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