Isa Genzken




Isa Genzken is one of the most important and influential artists of the last 40 years. Her innovative, multi-faceted, complex, and uncompromising work was presented in a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2013, the artist’s first large solo show in the United States. It was also shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Dallas Museum of Art. This comprehensive exhibition included assemblage, sculpture, painting, photography, collage, drawing, artist’s books, and film, as well as expansive installations, which not only highlighted Isa Genzken’s free utilization of multiple techniques and mediums, but also the radical shifts that she repeatedly executed in her long, uninterrupted career. Her artistic power is unique and explores the fundamental themes of modernity and urban architecture. Isa Genzken achieved her first successes in the late 1970s as German and American artists such as Gerhard Richter, Joseph Beuys, Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, Dan Graham, or Laurence Weiner dominated art-theoretical debates. She studied under Gerhard Richter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf; her American colleagues she met at Galerie Konrad Fischer, where, in 1976, she was the first woman to have a solo show. Even at this early stage, Isa Genzken resisted the primacy of styles, making aesthetically perfect floor sculptures, hyperboloids, and ellipsoids from wood that filled the room and which, although inspired by minimalism, were not reducible to its dogmas nor to those of conceptual art. The sculptures were based on elaborate computer calculations and required a complicated production process. They were designed in such a way as to add a narrative level to that of pure form and the geometric shape became an object charged with content. Achieving a similar result but using diametrically opposed artistic means, Isa Genzken managed to produce Brutalist concrete sculptures in the 1980s. They are magically reminiscent of architectural models or they are called ‘Weltempfänger’ (short wave radio receivers) and suggest that a concrete block equipped with an antenna can also be an object filled with meaning. In contrast to earlier sculptures, the production process here could be greatly simplified and returned to the studio, which was important for the artist. During this period she worked more radically than anyone else on redefining what sculpture could mean. Within a discourse of fundamental questioning, this corresponded to an inherent logic whereby from the late 1990s she created complex narrative installations, in which materials from the consumer-oriented world of goods were brought together and transformed into impressive scenarios recalling film sets.

Isa Genzken, born 1948 in Bad Oldesloe, has taken part in international exhibitions since 1980: 1982, 1992, and 2002 documenta 7, IX and 11; 1982, 1993, 2003 Venice Biennale, 2007 solo presentation at the German Pavilion; 1987, 1997, 2007 Skulptur Projekte Münster; 2001 Istanbul Biennale; 2004 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh; 2016 Gropius Bau, Berlin. Further exhibitions took place in 2010 at Museion, Bolzano, 2009 at Museum Ludwig, Cologne, and Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.



born in Bad Oldesloe

lives and works in Berlin


Studies at Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg


Studies photography and graphic at Hochschule der Künste in Berlin


Studies art history and philosophy at the university of Cologne


Studies at Düsseldorf art academy


received the "Kaiserring"

Selected Solo Shows


Here and Now – Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf


Isa Genzken – David Zwirner, Paris

Isa Genzken Works from 1973 to 1983 – Kunstmuseum Basel; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf

Isa Genzken. Nüsschen – Galerie Buchholz, New York City


Isa Genzken – Kunsthalle Bern

Isa Genzken Collagen – Jahn und Jahn, Munich


Außenprojekte – Galerie Buchholz, Berlin

Sky Energy – David Zwirner, New York


Modelle für Außenprojekte – Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn

Mach dich hübsch! – Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Portraits – Galerie Buchholz, New York


Mach dich hübsch! – Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

Iza Genzken. New Works – Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt a.M.

Isa Genzken – David Zwirner, New York

El Salvador – Galerie Buchholz, Berlin


Isa Genzken: Retrospective – MoMA, New York

Early Works – Galerie Buchholz, Berlin


Isa Genzken – Museion, Bolzano


Isa Genzken: Open, Sesame! – Whitechapel Gallery, London

Isa Genzken: Sesam, öffne dich! – Museum Ludwig, Cologne

Wind – Galerie Buchholz, Berlin


Oil – German pavilion, Venice Biennale


Isa Genzken – Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck

Isa Genzken – Secession, Vienna

Sport – Camden Art Centre, London


Kinder filmen – Galerie Buchholz, Berlin


Isa Genzken – Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich


Isa Genzken – Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach


Isa Genzken: Sie sind mein Glück – Kunstverein Braunschweig

Urlaub – Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt a.M.


MetLife Isa Genzken – Generali Foundation, Vienna


Jeder braucht mindestens ein Fenster – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

Jeder braucht mindestens ein Fenster – Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich


Jeder braucht mindestens ein Fenster – Portikus, Frankfurt a.M.

Everybody needs at least one window – The Renaissance Society, Chicago


Isa Genzken – Kunstmuseum Winterthur

Isa Genzken – Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam


Isa Genzken – Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn


Isa Genzken Arbeiten auf Papier – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


Isa Genzken – Galerie Fred Jahn, Munich


Isa Genzken – Konrad Fischer Galerie, Dusseldorf