Isa Genzken

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Isa Genzken
Genzken in 2009
Born (1948-11-27) 27 November 1948 (age 68)
Bad Oldesloe, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Nationality German
Education Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Hamburg University of Fine Arts and Berlin University of the Arts

Isa Genzken (born 27 November 1948 in Bad Oldesloe, Schleswig-Holstein) is a German contemporary artist who lives and works in Berlin. Her primary media are sculpture and installation, using a wide variety of materials, including concrete, plaster, wood and textile. She also works with photography, video, film and collage.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Hanne-Rose[2] "Isa" Genzken (pronounced EE-sa GENZ-ken) was raised mostly in the small northern German city of Bad Oldesloe[3] and in Hamburg.[4] She studied fine arts and art history with Almir Mavignier and Kai Sudeck[5] at the Hamburg University of Fine Arts[6] (1968[7]–1971) and the Berlin University of the Arts (1971–1973). To pay her tuition, Genzken worked part-time as a model.[8] Randy Kennedy (November 21, 2013),[9] In 1973 she transferred to Arts Academy Düsseldorf while also studying art history and philosophy at the University of Cologne.[10] At the academy, fellow students included artists Katharina Fritsch and Thomas Struth.[11]

Upon graduating in 1977, Genzken taught sculpture at the academy. She married German visual artist Gerhard Richter in 1982 and moved to Cologne in 1983. The couple separated in 1993.[12]

Genzken has worked in studios in Düsseldorf, Cologne (designed in 1993 by architect Frank Tebroke);[13] for short stretches in the United States, in Lower Manhattan and Hoboken, New Jersey;[14] and currently in Berlin.[15][16] After her divorce from Richter, she moved from the Rhineland region back to Berlin.

Genzken has bipolar disorder[17] and goes through manic and depressive phases. She has frequently undergone treatment for substance abuse.[18]


Rose (1993), in front of Leipziger Messe, Leipzig, Germany. Foto: Christoph Müller
Spiegel (1991), Bielefeld, Germany

Although Isa Genzken's primary focus is sculpture, she has produced various media including photography, film, video, works on paper, works on canvas with oil, collages, collage books, film scripts, and even a record. Her diverse practice draws on the legacies of Constructivism and Minimalism and often involves a critical, open dialogue with Modernist architecture and contemporary visual and material culture. Genzken's diverse work also keeps her from being predictable in her work. Despite Genzken's diverse work, she is a traditional sculptor at heart. Using plaster, cement, building samples, photographs, and bric-a-brac, Genzken creates architectonic structures that have been described as contemporary ruins. She further incorporates mirrors and other reflective surfaces to literally draw the viewer into her work. Genzken also uses location placement methods to inflict emotions into her sculptor viewers by making her viewers physically move out of the way of Genzken's sculptor due to the placement of the sculptor <ref> "Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry". University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 34.</ref>. The column is a recurring motif for Genzken, a “pure” architectural trope on which to explore relationships between “high art” and the mass-produced products of popular culture.[19]

In the 1970s, Genzken began working with wood that she carved into unusual geometric shapes such as hyperboloids and ellipsoids.[20] In the photographs of her Hi-Fi-Serie (1979), she reproduced advertisements for stereo phonographs.[21]

In 1980, Genzken and Gerhard Richter were commissioned to design the König-Heinrich-Platz underground station in Duisburg; it was completed in 1992. Between 1986 and 1992, Genzken conceived her series of plaster and concrete sculptures to investigate architecture. These sculptures consist of sequentially poured and stacked slabs of concrete featuring rough openings, windows and interiors.[22] A later series consists of other architectural or interior design quotations made from epoxy resin casts, such as column or lamp sculptures.[23] In 1986, Genzken's architectural references switched from the 1910s, 20s and 30s to the 1950s, 60s and 70s.[24] In 1990 she installed a steel frame, Camera (1990) on a Brussels gallery’s rooftop, offering a view of the city below.[25] In 2000, a series of architectural models roughly patched together, was inscribed with Fuck the Bauhaus. Later, in the series New Buildings for Berlin, which was shown at Documenta 11, Genzken designed architectural visions of glass high-rises.

The project entitled Der Spiegel 1989-1991 is a series of images comprising 121 reproductions of black and white photographs selected and cut from German newsweekly Der Spiegel. Presented in a non-sequential but methodical manner, each image is glued against a piece of white card and individually mounted in a simple frame. Whilst the images themselves remain caption-less, the dates in the series' titles offer clues about the artist's intentions.[26]

Her paintings of suspended hoops, collectively entitled MLR (More Light Research) (1992), recall gymnastics apparatus caught mid-swing and frozen in time.[27]

Starting in 1995, while in New York for several months, Genzken created a three-volume collage book entitled I Love New York, Crazy City (1995–1996),[28] a compendium of souvenirs from her various stays in the city, including photographs of Midtown's architecture, snapshots, maps, hotel bills, nightclub flyers, concert tickets, among others.[29]

One of Genzken's best known works, Rose (1993/7), is a public sculpture of a single long-stemmed rose made from enamelled stainless steel that towers eight metres above Leipzig’s museum district. The artist's first public artwork in the United States, her replica Rose II (2007) was installed outside the New Museum as part of a year-long rotating installation in November 2010.[30]

Genzken has also produced numerous films, including Zwei Frauen im Gefecht, 1974, Chicago Drive, 1992,[31] Meine Großeltern im Bayerischen Wald, 1992, and the video Empire/Vampire, Who Kills Death, 2003.

Since the end of the second half of the 1990s, Genzken has been conceptualizing sculptures and panel paintings in the shape of a bricolage of materials taken from DIY stores and from photographs and newspaper clippings.[32] She often uses materials that underline the temporary character of her works. As part of her deep-set interest in urban space, she also arranges complex, and often disquieting, installations with mannequins, dolls, photographs, and an array of found objects. New Buildings for New York are assembled from found scraps of plastic, metal and pizza-box cardboard.[33] The assemblages from the Empire/Vampire, Who Kills Death series, originally comprising more than twenty sculptures that were created following the attacks of September 11, are combinations of found objects – action figures, plastic vessels, and various elements of consumer detritus – arranged on pedestals in architecturally inspired, post-destruction scenes.[34] Elefant (2006) is a column of cascading vertical blinds festooned with plastic tubes, foil, artificial flowers, fabric and some tiny toy soldiers and Indians.[35] For her installation Oil, the artist transformed the German Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale into a futuristic and morbid Gesamtkunstwerk.

Rose II


Genzken served as a Guest Professor at Berlin University of the Arts (1990) and at Städelschule, Frankfurt (1991–92).[36]

Genzken's Impact[edit]

Genzken's work has undoubtedly impacted on art culture through her unique ability to create sculptures out of many materials such as wood, plaster, concrete, steel, epoxy resin, and even household kitchen materials, as seen in her "Babies" semblance from 1997. Genzken redefined the art of creating sculptures and even combated discrimination against sculpture art in the 60s and 70s as she pursued her unique talent. Simply put, her work has been seen as an attempt to encourage and broaden the art of sculpture without eliminating it. Genzken's art and media have always stayed true to the logic of her work, which continues to be contradictory, unpredictable, and in opposition throughout the sculpture. Her sculptures have even been recognized as art that creates illusions with the mind and opens the imagination of the viewer. <ref> "Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry". University of Chicago Press, 2000, p. 35.</ref>


Genzken’s first solo exhibition was held in 1976 at the Konrad Fischer Gallery in Düsseldorf, and her first exhibition with Galerie Buchholz was in 1986 in Cologne. Her first solo show in the U.S. was mounted by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, in 1989.[37] Genzken represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 2007. She participated in the 2003 Venice Biennale and, in 2002, Documenta 11 in Kassel, Germany. She was the subject of a major retrospective in 2009, jointly organized by the Museum Ludwig, Cologne and the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Other solo exhibitions in the past decade include Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2008); the Camden Arts Centre, London (2006); the Photographers' Gallery, London (2005); the Kunsthalle Zürich (2003); and the Lenbachhaus, Munich (2003). Artist Dan Graham included Genzken's work in his "Deep Comedy" show at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, in 2008.[38] Her recent shows included collaborative work with Kai Althoff[39] and Wolfgang Tillmans, in whose exhibition space "Between Bridges" she exhibited in 2008. She is the subject of Elizabeth Peyton's painting Isa (Isa Genzken 1980) (2010). In 2015/16 she organised the exhibition 'Mach dich hübsch' in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Genzken is represented by Galerie Buchholz, Cologne, as her primary gallery, as well as David Zwirner, New York; and Hauser & Wirth, London. "Isa Genzken: Retrospective" organized by Sabine Breitwieser, Laura Hoptman, Michael Darling and Jeffrey Grove is on view at the Museum of Modern Art until March 10, 2014; travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and Dallas Museum of Art.[40]


Genzken's work is included in the collections of many institutions internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Generali Foundation, Vienna; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; the Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden; the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.


The artist won the International Art Prize (Cultural Donation of SSK Munich) in 2004 and the Wolfgang-Hahn-Prize [1] (Museum Ludwig,[41] Cologne) in 2002.

Isa Genzken.

Isa spending time in New York in September 2005 (photo at right).

Group exhibitions (selection)[edit]

  • 1997 „Schlaglichter. Eine Bestandsaufnahme aktueller Kunst im Rheinland“, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn
  • 1981 Art Allemagne Aujourd´hui, Musée d´art moderne de la ville de Paris
    • „Westkunst, Zeitgenössische Kunst seit 1939: Heute“, Messehallen Cologne
  • 1982 documenta 7, Kassel
  • 1985 „RAI 85“, Messezentrum, Amsterdam
  • 1987„Juxtapositions: Recent Sculpture from England and Germany“, P.S.1 The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, New York
    • Skulptur Projekte Münster 87, Münster
  • 1988 „The 7th Biennale of Sydney“, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • 1992 documenta IX, Kassel
  • 1993 Viaggio verso Citera, arte poesia, Palazzo Ca’Vendramin-Calergi, 45 Venice Biennale
  • 1997 „Skulptur Projekte Münster 97“, Münster
  • 2001 „7. Internationale Istanbul Biennale“
  • 2002 „documenta XI“, Kassel
  • 2004 „54. Carnegie International“, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  • 2005 „Isa Genzken, Gerhard Richter, Thomas Schütte“, Krypta 182
  • 2006 „Bühne des Lebens – Rhetorik des Gefühls“, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, München
  • 2007 „Skulptur Projekte Münster 07“, Münster
  • 2008 „Collecting Collections: Highlights of the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles“, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    • „Vertrautes Terrain“, Zentrum für Kunst and Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe
    • „Oranges and Sardines“ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
  • 2009 „12 + 6: Artists and Architects of City Center, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art“, Las Vegas
  • 2010: Kunst im Tunnel (KIT), Düsseldorf: Wrong (kuratiert by Katharina Fritsch and Gertrud Peters)
    • „Auswertung der Flugdaten“: Kunst der 80er. Eine Düsseldorfer Perspektive, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf
    • „Utopie and Monument II“, Steirischer Herbst, Graz
    • „Há sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar“, 29a Bienal de São Paulo
  • 2011 „Architektonika“, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
  • 2 012 „Gegenwartskunst 1945 bis heute“, Städel
    • „Fruits de la passion“, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
    • 2013 „Liebe ist kälter als das Kapital“, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz
    • „Das Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts. Es kommt noch besser“, Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
    • “Ausweitung der Kampfzone“. Die Sammlung 1968 – 2000, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin

See also[edit]


  • “Isa Genzken: Skulpturen, Zeichnungen, Fotografien“, Horst Schuler: Images, Text by Birgit Pelzer, Exhibition catalogue Haus Lange Krefeld, November 11 - December 30, 1979, Krefeld 1979
  • “Isa Genzken, Gerhard Richter“, Text by Rudi H. Fuchs, Exhibition catalogue Galleria Pieroni, Rome 1983
  • “Isa Genzken“, Texts by Klaus Honnef, Dieter Schwarz and Jan van Adrichem, Exhibition catalogue Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn, October 20 - November 27, 1988; Kunstmuseum Winterthur, January 22 - March 19, 1989; Museum Boymans – van Beuningen, Rotterdam, April 30 - June 18, 1989, Munich: Verlag Silke Schreiber, 1988
  • “Isa Genzken“, Texts by Gregorio Magnani and Peter Groot, Exhibition catalogue Museum Boymans – van Beuningen, Rotterdam, April 30 - June 18, 1989, Cologne, 1989
  • “Isa Genzken. Jeder braucht mindestens ein Fenster“, Texts by Paul Groot and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Exhibition catalogue The Renaissance Society Gallery at the University of Chicago, May / June 1992; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, November / December 1992; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, February / April 1993; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, May / June 1993, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 1992
  • “Isa Genzken. Skizzen für einen Spielfilm“, Texts by Isa Genzken and Katerina Vatsella, Exhibition catalogue Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen 1993
  • “Isa Genzken. MetLife“, Texts by Sabine Breitwieser, Isabelle Graw and Birgit Pelzer, Ed.: Sabine Breitwieser, Exhibition catalogue EA-Generali Foundation, Vienna, 1996
  • “Isa Genzken“. Urlaub, Text by Vanessa Joan Müller, Exhibition catalogue Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main, May 27 - August 6, 2000, New York: Lukas & Sternberg 2000
  • “Isa Genzken. Sie sind mein Glück“, Texts by Karola Grässlin, Diedrich Diederichsen and Rita Kersting, Exhibition catalogue Kunstverein Braunschweig, June 11 - August 27, 2000, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag 2000
  • “AC: Isa Genzken / Wolfgang Tillmans“, Texts by Kasper König and Michael Krajewski, Exhibition catalogue Science Fiction / Hier and jetzt zufrieden sein, AC-Saal, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 1. November, 2001 – 17. Februar, 2002, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 2001
  • “Isa Genzken. Wolfgang-Hahn-Preis 2002“, Texts by Paul Erik Tojner and Michael Krajewski, Exhibition catalogue Museum Ludwig, Cologne, October 31, 2002 - January 26, 2003, Ed.: Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig e.V., Cologne 2002
  • Isa Genzken, Texts by Beatrix Ruf, Diedrich Diederichsen, Josef Strau, Veit Loers, Vanessa Joan Müller, conversation with Wolfgang Tillmans, Exhibition catalogue Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach 2002; Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich 2003, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 2003
  • Isa Genzken, Texts by Alex Farquharson, Sabine Breitwieser, Interview by Diedrich Diederichsen, publ. by Phaidon Press, London 2006
  • Isa Genzken, Exhibition catalogue Secession, Vienna; Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Texts by Benjamin Buchloh, Manfred Hermes, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 2006
  • Isa Genzken - I Love New York, Crazy City, Artist Book, Facsimile, publ. by JRP Ringier, Zürich 2006
  • Isa Genzken – OIL, German Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2007, Conversation with Nicolaus Schafhausen and Texts by Liam Gillick, Juliane Rebentisch, Vanessa Joan Müller, Willem de Rooij, Cologne: DuMont 2007
  • Isa Genzken – Ground Zero, Text by David Bussel, Exhibition catalogue Hauser & Wirth, London 2008
  • Isa Genzken – Sesam öffne dich!, Exhibition catalogue Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König 2009
  • Isa Genzken, Text by Letizia Ragaglia, Beiträge by Monika Bonvicini, Simon Denny, Liam Gillick, Jutta Koether, Mark Leckey, Nick Mauss, Elizabeth Peyton, Lawrence Weiner, Cerith Wyn Evans, Exhibition catalogue Museion, Bolzano 2010
  • Isa Genzken: Berlin, 1973, artist book, facsimile, publ. by Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin 2013
  • „Isa Genzken: Retrospective“, Exhibition catalogue The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013/2014), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2014), Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas (2014/2015), Texts by Sabine Breitwieser, Laura Hoptman, Lisa Lee, Michael Darling, Jeffrey Grove, publ. by The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2013
  • Isa Genzken – Early Works, Exhibition catalogue, Galerie Buchholz, Berlin 2013


  1. ^ Astrid Wege (2001). "Isa Genzken: The Impossibility of Communication". In Uta Grosenick. Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Century. Köln: Taschen. pp. 150–155. ISBN 3822858544. 
  2. ^ Ulrike Knöfel (October 25, 2013), MoMA Retrospective: The Strange Brilliance of Isa Genzken Der Spiegel.
  3. ^ Randy Kennedy (November 21, 2013), No, It Isn’t Supposed to Be Easy New York Times.
  4. ^ Georg Imdahl (August 10, 2009), Ein Fenster zum Highway und eins zum Hinterhof Berliner Zeitung.
  5. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  6. ^ Archived October 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  8. ^ Ulrike Knöfel (October 25, 2013), MoMA Retrospective: The Strange Brilliance of Isa Genzken Der Spiegel.
  9. ^ No, It Isn’t Supposed to Be Easy New York Times
  10. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  11. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  12. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  13. ^ Project List Frank Tebroke, Cologne.
  14. ^ No, It Isn’t Supposed to Be Easy New York Times
  15. ^ Randy Kennedy (November 21, 2013), In 1996,
  16. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  17. ^ Randy Kennedy (November 21, 2013), No, It Isn’t Supposed to Be Easy New York Times.
  18. ^ Ulrike Knöfel (October 25, 2013), MoMA Retrospective: The Strange Brilliance of Isa Genzken Der Spiegel.
  19. ^ Isa Genzken: Kinderschirm (2004) Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
  20. ^ Ulrike Knöfel (October 25, 2013), MoMA Retrospective: The Strange Brilliance of Isa Genzken Der Spiegel.
  21. ^ Isa Genzken Generali Foundation, Vienna.
  22. ^ Isa Genzken: Everybody needs at least one window, May 14 – June 28, 1992 Renaissance Society, Chicago.
  23. ^ Isa Genzken Generali Foundation, Vienna.
  24. ^ Isa Genzken, Guardini (1987) Christie's Post-War & Contemporary Afternoon Session, 16 May 2013, New York.
  25. ^ Isa Genzken, September 15 - October 27, 1990 Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels.
  26. ^ Isa Genzken: Der Spiegel 1989-1991, 7 October - 20 November 2005 Photographers' Gallery, London.
  27. ^ Isa Genzken, 17 February 2006 - 16 April 2006 Camden Arts Centre, London.
  28. ^ Isa Genzken Generali Foundation, Vienna.
  29. ^ Isa Genzken: Retrospective, November 23, 2013 – March 10, 2014 Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  30. ^ Isa Genzken: Rose II (2007) New Museum, New York.
  31. ^ Isa Genzken: Everybody needs at least one window, May 14 – June 28, 1992 Renaissance Society, Chicago.
  32. ^ Isa Genzken Generali Foundation, Vienna.
  33. ^ Holland Cotter (July 12, 2002), Architectural Visions Keep Dreamers Awake New York Times.
  34. ^ Isa Genzken: New Work, February 10 – March 5, 2005 David Zwirner Gallery, New York.
  35. ^ Roberta Smith (November 30, 2007), In Galleries, a Nervy Opening Volley New York Times.
  36. ^ Isa Genzken Hauser & Wirth.
  37. ^ Michael Brenson (December 1, 1989), From Chillida, Pillars Of Energy and Gravity New York Times.
  38. ^ Deep Comedy, Curated by Dan Graham, June 25 - July 30, 2008 Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.
  39. ^ Holland Cotter (July 7, 2011), ‘The Phantasm’ New York Times.
  40. ^ Foster, Hal. "Isa Genzken." Artforum 52.6 (2014): 204-206.
  41. ^ Archived October 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]