Isa Genzken: Retrospective

Isa Genzken: Retrospective

Museum of Contemporary Art

Isa Genzken, Oil XI, 2007. Vinyl, plastic, and aluminum suitcases; silkscreen on laminated fabric, jackets, stuffed animals, plastic, paper, frames, and three fabric-and-plastic space suits, twenty parts, dimensions variable. Installation view, the German Pavilion, 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007. © Isa Genzken. Photo: Jan Bitter, Berlin. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.

April 12, 2014

Isa Genzken: Retrospective
April 12–August 3, 2014

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago IL 60611

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) presents the first large-scale American retrospective of Isa Genzken, one of the most important and influential sculptors of the past forty years. This exhibition of work by the renowned Berlin-based German artist, organized jointly by MCA Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Dallas Museum of Art, seeks to introduce American audiences to the breadth of Genzken’s forty-plus-year career. Isa Genzken: Retrospective is on view April 12–August 3 and is organized by Michael Darling, MCA Chicago James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator; Sabine Breitwieser, former MoMA Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art; Laura Hoptman, MoMA Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture; Jeffrey Grove, Dallas Museum of Art Senior Curator of Special Projects & Research; with Stephanie Weber, MoMA Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Genzken began exhibiting in the late 1970s, appearing regularly in solo shows at major galleries and museums as well as prestigious international group shows such as the Venice Biennale and dOCUMENTA. Her early work was initially inspired by minimalism but quickly expanded to blur traditional distinctions between painting, sculpture, and photography. Genzken’s eclectic approach could be compared to other artists—Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, James Welling—but unlike them, Genzken cannot be defined by a single medium and she has made influential contributions in numerous fields.

This exhibition encompasses Genzken’s work produced over the past four decades, with the past decade being one of particular productivity for her. During this time, she has taken her interest in found objects and collage and created several bodies of work that have redefined assemblage for younger artists working today. These works, which range from smaller, diorama-like sculptures to room-filling installations, incorporate photographs, kitschy souvenirs, pop culture cast-offs, cheap household products, and high-end design objects. Genzken is interested in combining many materials to create evocative statements that are immediately recognizable by the public as hers. The breadth of her achievements—which include not only three-dimensional works but also paintings, photographs, collages, artist’s books, performances, films, and public sculptures—has remained obscure in most of the United States, and many of the works in this exhibition are on view in this country for the first time.

Divided into chronological sections and arranged thematically within those sections, the exhibition presents major works and series as points that signal new phases or chapters in the artist’s body of work. The exhibition begins with Genzken’s Minimalist sculptures from the 1970s and early 1980s (Gelbes Ellipsoid [Yellow Ellipsoid] [1976], Rotschwarz- gelbes Ellipsoid ‘S.L. Popova’ [Red-black-yellow Ellipsoid ‘S.L. Popova’] [1981]), and her plaster, concrete, and epoxy sculptures from the 1980s (Mein Gehirn [1984], Bild [1989]), and culminates with series of assemblages that she began in the late 1990s and continues today (Spielautomat [Slot machine] [1999–2000], Kinder Filmen [Filming Children] [2005], and Hospital [Ground Zero] [2008]). Two new large-scale works are on view for the first time: Untitled (2012), a monumental photo collage, and Schauspieler (Actors) (2013), a multipart environment that features elaborately altered mannequins and props. Another major installation, Oil XI (2007), which was part of her installation in the German Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, is part of the exhibition. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue that features in-depth essays by the exhibition’s four curators, as well as Lisa Lee, a specialist on Genzken’s work and a professor at the University of Chicago.


Isa Genzken: Retrospective at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
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April 12, 2014

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