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b. 1948, Germany

Isa Genzken Biography

Since the 1970s, Isa Genzken has taken unpredictable ventures into diverse media, aesthetics, and points of reference that include modernist architecture, Constructivism, Minimalism, and our perceptions of the contemporary world.

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The varied nature of Genzken's practice is evident from the early days of her career. While at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf—where she studied under Gerhard Richter, whom Genzken later married and divorced—she produced Two Women in Combat (1974), a black-and-white film that shows young Genzken and her friend Susan Grayson exchanging their clothes. Despite the title, their interaction is cordial and filled with laughter throughout the silent film.

During this decade, Genzken also began to produce large-scale wooden sculptures known as 'Ellipsoids' and 'Hyperbolos', whose simplistic forms evoke the legacies of Minimalism. These were designed by computers, making her one of the first artists, among her contemporaries, to marry digital technology and art.

Genzken travelled to the U.S. in 1977, where she became enamoured with New York. She went on to explore the city's urban and modernist architecture in works such as the steel sculpture, Rose (1993), versions of which have been installed in public spaces and reflect their surrounding corporate buildings and the capitalist consumer culture implicit within them.

In 1996, the artist completed I Love New York, Crazy City, an artist's book containing collages made from found images and the photographs she took around New York. Though two-dimensional, Isa Genzken's collages emit a sculptural quality reinforced by the bold lines of duct tape that section their pictorial planes into compartments.

One of the recurrent motifs in Genzken's practice is the window, which prompts the viewer to consider the material and metaphoric properties of space. In photographs such as Ohr (Ear) (1980), close-ups of ear canals transform them into monumental apertures.

An exploration of the symbolic implications of openings and frames formed the core of her solo exhibition Everybody Needs At Least a Window (1992) at The Renaissance Society, Chicago, and continued in the freestanding resin window sculptures in the 'Venedig' series (1993).

The 1990s also witnessed a succession of the experimental spirit that characterises Isa Genzken's work. Early in the decade, she produced X-rays of her skull as she drank and smoked, obscuring the line between art and an artist's personal life.

Her iconic column sculptures, reminiscent of skyscrapers, are constructed from quotidian materials, such as the shiny mirrors that provide a fragmented reflection of the material world in Little Crazy Column (2000) or the more eclectic arrangement of artificial flowers, wood, and miniature figurines of native Americans and cowboys at war in Bouquet (2004).

Isa Genzken has increasingly turned to figurative sculptures to examine contemporary human experiences. In the 'Schauspieler (Actors)' series (2013), for example, she dresses mannequins in various items and clothing—some her own—to reference the extremes of consumerist excess.

Genzken's work has been organised into several travelling exhibitions, including Isa Genzken: Retrospective (2013), presented by Museum of Modern Art, New York; Isa Genzken: New Works, initiated by Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria (2014); and Mach dich hübsch! (2015), a survey exhibition that debuted at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Isa Genzken solo exhibitions include:

Isa Genzken: Works 1973–1983, Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2020); Window, Hauser & Wirth, London (2020); Isa Genzken, Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland (2019); Isa Genzken: Sky Energy, David Zwirner, New York (2017); Isa Genzken. Basic Research Paintings, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015).

Isa Genzken group exhibitions include:

Ikonen. Was wir Menschen anbeten, Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany (2019); Hybrid Sculpture. Contemporary Sculpture from the Collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2019); Like Life. Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300–Now), The Met Breuer, New York (2018); The Long Run, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2017); All the World's Futures, 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2015).

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020

Isa Genzken Featured Artworks

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Al Dente, 2003 (For Parkett 69) by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenAl Dente, 2003 (For Parkett 69), 2003Italian ceramic, lacquer, plastic, plate with two toy figures (cow and dinosaur), each unique and handmade by the artist
29.7 x 20 x 26 cm
Parkett Contact Gallery
Untitled by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenUntitled, 2018Lacquer paint, paint can, photo holder, cardboard, plastic lid, glue, ash, paper, tissue, tape, plastic foil, c-print, toy figure, cigarette, plastic wrapper, mirror foil, and sticker on aluminium pan
72 x 100 x 12.5 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Untitled by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenUntitled, 2018Lacquer paint and metal grid on aluminium panel
70 x 100 cm
David Zwirner Contact Gallery
Atelierfenster by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenAtelierfenster, 1999Plastic, acrylic paint, metal, wood
153 x 70 x 50 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Untitled by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenUntitled, 2006Buggy, stool, plastic toys, lace, fish hooks
81 x 150 x 64 cm
Galerie Buchholz Contact Gallery
Saal (Room) by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenSaal (Room), 1989Square steel tube table, 11 concrete parts
219 x 99.5 x 50 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Untitled by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenUntitled, 2017Adhesive tape on aluminium panel
115 x 80 cm
Galerie Buchholz Contact Gallery
Schauspieler (Actors) by Isa Genzken contemporary artwork
Isa GenzkenSchauspieler (Actors), 2016Installation: 9 mannequins, mixed media, fabric, leather, wigs, lacquer, tape, wooden stool, glass
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery

Isa Genzken Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Isa Genzken, Nüsschen at Galerie Buchholz, New York
Closed
28 October 2020–30 January 2021 Isa Genzken Nüsschen Galerie BuchholzNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Isa Genzken, Isa Genzken at David Zwirner, Paris
Closed
29 August–10 October 2020 Isa Genzken David ZwirnerParis
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Lìxià at David Zwirner, Hong Kong
Closed
5 May–5 June 2020 Group Exhibition Lìxià David ZwirnerHong Kong

Isa Genzken Represented By

David Zwirner contemporary art gallery in 19th Street, New York, USA David Zwirner New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong
Galerie Buchholz contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany Galerie Buchholz Berlin, Cologne, New York
Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth New York, Hong Kong, Zurich, London, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz

Isa Genzken In Ocula Magazine

MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern Ocula Feature MoMA Expansion: Once the Modern, Always the Modern By Mohammad Salemy, New York

Mohammad Salemy reports on art historical and political redress within The Museum of ModernArt's permanent collection after the museum's recent expansion.

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The Lowdown: shows to see during Armory Week Ocula Feature The Lowdown: shows to see during Armory Week By Robert Ayers, New York

The Armory Show is really just the weekend-long cherry on top of the splendid sundae that is the New York art scene and all it has to offer.

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Berlin, Boners and Brecht Ocula Feature Berlin, Boners and Brecht By Diana d'Arenberg, Berlin

It was a typical Berlin week of contrasts, of darkness and beauty, the sacred and the profane.

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Yokohama Triennale 2014 'Art Fahrenheit 451: Sailing Into The Sea Of Oblivion' Ocula Feature Yokohama Triennale 2014 'Art Fahrenheit 451: Sailing Into The Sea Of Oblivion' By Becca Voelcker, Yokohama

At the height of McCarthyism, American writer Ray Bradbury published his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 which describes life in a near future where all books are burned on the orders of the state. Extrapolating from the situation of censorship that he felt pervaded 1950s America, Bradbury imagined a fleet of ‘firemen’ who ignite...

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Isa Genzken In Related Press

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Isa Genzken stages a flight of fantasy at Hauser & Wirth Related Press Isa Genzken stages a flight of fantasy at Hauser & Wirth 18 February 2020, Wallpaper*

At Hauser & Wirth, the alpha female of German sculpture steers us through notions of travel, social architecture and the human condition

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The Meaning of the Moon, From the Incas to the Space Race Related Press The Meaning of the Moon, From the Incas to the Space Race 12 September 2018, The New York Times

COPENHAGEN — Outside Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on a recent late-summer morning, a few sunstruck visitors were sprawling on the turf of the sculpture garden, between monumental outdoor works by Alexander Calder and Richard Serra.

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Frieze Art Fair, London Related Press Frieze Art Fair, London 6 October 2017, Art Agenda

Leave or Remain, Trump or Clinton, terror, peace, boredom, or indifference: no matter where the world is at culturally, politically, socially, or existentially, there will always be another Frieze fair in early October. If last year's edition occurred within the shadow of a particularly pronounced period of political uncertainty, by now the cards...

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Unlimited section at Art Basel in Basel to include El Anatsui, Stan Douglas et al. Related Press Unlimited section at Art Basel in Basel to include El Anatsui, Stan Douglas et al. 29 April 2016, ARTNews

Unlimited, the Art Basel platform allotted for large-scale and unconventional artworks, will be showing a record 88 projects from participating galleries this year. Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, is heading the section for the fifth year in a row.

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