Katharina Fritsch (born 14 February 1956) is a German sculptor. She lives and works in Düsseldorf.
Born in Essen, West Germany, Fritsch first studied history and art history at the University of Münster and, in 1977, transferred to Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. There, she was a student of Fritz Schwegler until 1984.
Katharina Fritsch is known for her sculptures and installations that reinvigorate familiar objects with a jarring and uncanny sensibility. Her works' iconography is drawn from many different sources, including Christianity, art history and folklore. She attracted international attention for the first time in the mid-1980s with life-size works such as a true-to-scale elephant. Fritsch’s art is often concerned with the psychology and expectations of visitors to a museum.
Gary Garrels wrote that “One of the remarkable features of Fritsch’s work is its ability both to capture the popular imagination by its immediate appeal and to be a focal point for the specialized discussions of the contemporary art world. This all too infrequent meeting point is at the center of her work, as it addresses the ambiguous and difficult relationships between artists and the public and between art and its display—that is, the role of art and exhibitions and of the museum in the late twentieth century.”  The special role colour plays in Fritsch's work has roots in her childhood visits to her grandfather, a salesman for Faber-Castell art supplies, whose garage was well-stocked with his wares.
Her most recognized works are Rattenkönig/Rat King (1993), a giant circle of black polyester rats, included in the 1999 Venice Biennale. Other works include Mönch (Monk) (2003), a stoic, monochromatic male figure, made of solid polyester with a smooth, matte black surface; Figurengruppe / Group of Figures (2006-2008), an installation of nine elements; and Hahn/Cock (2010), a 14 ft (4.3m) cockerel in ultramarine blue to be shown on London's Trafalgar Square for 18 months from 25 July 2013.
In her working process, Fritsch combines the techniques of traditional sculpture with those of industrial production. While many of her early works were handcrafted, Fritsch now makes only the models for her sculptures and then hands these over to a factory for production, to near-pathological specifications. She uses these models to create moulds, from which the final sculptures are cast in materials such as plaster, polyester and aluminium. Many are made as editions, meaning that multiple casts are taken from one mould. For the duration of some of her exhibitions, Fritsch has made her multiples available for sale at the respective museums.
Fritsch showed her first sculptures in 1979. Her international breakthrough came in 1984 at Düsseldorf’s ‘Von hier aus’ (From Here On) exhibition. In 1988 she exhibited at the Kunsthalle Basel and in 1997 at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Her work has since been the subject of exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago as well as of a survey exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich and Deichtorhallen (2009). She is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; and the Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Her first major exhibition in the U.S. was held at Dia Center for the Arts in 1993. She represented Germany at the 1995 Venice Biennale.
- 1984 Kunstpreis Rheinische Post, Düsseldorf
- 1989 Kunstpreis Glockengasse, Cologne
- 1994 Coutts & Co. International Award, London
- 1996 Kunstpreis Aachen
- 1999 Junge Stadt sieht Junge Kunst, Wolfsburg
- 2002 Konrad-von-Soest-Preis des Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe
- 2008 Piepenbrock Preis für Skulptur
- Gary Garrels, “Katharina Fritsch: An Introduction,” in Katharina Fritsch (San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996), 12.
- Colour Chart: Reinventing Colour, 1950 to Today, May 29 - September 13, 2009 Tate Liverpool.
- Mark Brown (January 14, 2011), Fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square gets (no sniggering) a 14ft blue cock The Guardian.
- Katharina Fritsch: New Work, 10 September — 23 October, 1999 White Cube Gallery, London.
- KATHARINA FRITSCH, June 3 - August 30, 2009 Kunsthaus Zürich.
- Katharina Fritsch Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.
- Katharina Fritsch. San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996.
- Katharina Fritsch. Wolfsburg: Stadische Galerie Wolfsburg, 1999.
- Katharina Fritsch. New York: Matthew Marks Gallery, 2000.
- Blazwick, Iwona. Katharina Fritsch. London: Tate, 2002.