Isa Genzken is active/lives in Germany. Isa Genzken is known for large-scale mixed-media installation, assemblage.
Biography from the Archives of askART
Known for column shaped or linear mixed-media* work, which includes
photography, collage*, metals, and video, Isa Genzken is based in
Berlin. Some of her pieces are precise still lifes of random objects.
Her education includs the Hamburg College of Fine Arts from 1969 to
1971, the Berlin Unversity of Fine Arts, 1971 to 1973, and the
Dusseldorf Arts Academy* from 1973 to 1977.
Biography from Saatchi Gallery
Exhibition venues include the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels. In
2004, she won the Wolfgan-Hahn Prize at an exhibition at the Museum
Ludwig in Cologne.
From 1982 to 1995, she was married to German artist, Gerhard Richter.
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Urlaub, a work by Isa Genzken, possesses a ridiculous elegance, caught between high design and
holiday festivity. Drawing from the Minimalist concept of objective
abstraction, Genzken's work straddles the spheres of formalist purity
and narrative interpretation. Entrenched in the process of making,
Genzken's work is the result of her own intimate interaction with
materials, tempering the procedure of formal decision-making with the
spontaneity of imaginative play. Kitsch objects such as plastic leaves,
figurines, and an oversized wine glass carry their own associative
references while operating as neutral compositional elements of shape,
colour, and texture. Urlaub exudes escapist fantasy while retaining a
refined order, culminating as surreal microcosm of caprice vs.
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Exploring individual response to the built environment, Isa Genzken's
assemblages create suggestive space. Plinths stand as neutral
development zones for spontaneous construction; anonymous towers
exuding power and autonomy become laden with the intrinsically
personal. In Mutter mit Kind, Genzken's minimalist box is both domestic
interior, and psychological projection. Incorporating furniture,
children's toys, and a Madonna-like image, Mutter mit Kind poses as a
disrupted altar, exuding a sinister element of vulnerability and
instability. The upturned chair on top doubles as a looking-glass,
giving magical distortion to the fairytale figures within.
The column for Isa Genzken is a recurring motif: its linear purity
becomes a critical field on which she explores the relations between
art, architecture, design, and social experience. In her most recent
work, Genzken augments her usually svelte and sophisticated formalism
to create assemblages of maximum overload. Bouquet explodes as unwieldy
still-life: its plinth base defiled with spray paint, adorned with
garlands, topped with a menagerie of cowboys and Indians warring under
an ornamental flower arrangement. Posed as a beautiful and grotesque
requiem, Genzken's sculpture references a shattered utopia, framing
modernist architectural form as monument of hope and mourning.
Leaning against the wall as a series of towers or screens, Isa
Genzken's installations becomes simultaneously painterly and
architectural: her giant mirror plates like translucent building
facades, encapsulating reflections of the gallery interior within their
chaotic framework. Highlighting this illusion between flat and
perceived space, Genzken collages her glass planes with pages torn from
books, bands of tape, and dripping paint, creating a sense of
weightlessness in their layered materiality. Repetitive grids, greasy
lines, and candy coloured bars, become entangled as urban decay,
devouring antiquarian images in its graffiti-like debasement. Titled
Kinder Filmen 1, Genzken's installation suggests information overload
broadcast as disrupted transmission, her formalist excess presenting a
break down of innocence.
Isa Genzken's MLR (More Light Research) paintings are inspired by the
work of 19th c. abstract artist Hilda of Klimt. Borrowing spatial and
composition devices from Klimt, Genzken couches these associations
within her own research of architectural form and social negotiation.
Through this layering of reference, Genzken engages with ideas of
modernity, feminine identity, and emotional loss.
Created from layers of lacquer stencilled over traditional canvas,
Genzken's MLR series conveys an industrial authoritarianism; the
corrosive hues, laminated surfaces, and photo negative aesthetics lend
a sense of historical power and import. Abstractly depicting acrobatic
equipment in various states of motion, each of Genzken's canvases is
absent of figurative presence: this frozen moment of the gymnast's
release contains layered allegories of personal and ideological
This discord between the intimate and the systematic is heightened
throughout Genzken's MLR paintings. The mesh-like texture found in each
image evokes connotations to the pixilation of print media, as well
more threatening implications of wire fencing or chain mail. The
generic repetition of the ring and chain motif paradoxically offers
both ideas of freedom of movement and torturous restraint. Through
these dichotomies, Genzken explores the impact of social construction
on the individual. The sense of isolation, oppression, and grief within
each MLR painting becomes emblematic of the human condition.
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