Art: 'Isa Genzken: Retrospective' makes US debut at MoMA

Isa Genzken’s handcrafted artworks are now on view at MoMA. The complete retrospective is in the U.S. for the first time.

MoMa brings Isa Genzken's work together for the first time in the United States. Credit: Provided MoMa brings Isa Genzken's work together for the first time in the United States.
Credit: Provided

 

MoMA’s “Isa Genzken: Retrospective" marks the American debut of this German-born artist’s 40-year career. With more than 150 objects, the show details this multidisciplinary artist’s painting, photography, drawing, film, assemblage and large-scale installations.

 

A central theme of her artwork is architecture and how urbanized spaces remap our environment. Genzken’s multimedia works fuse high-brow and pop culture, creating installations from the underbelly of urban consumerism.

 

Genzken’s art is refreshingly playful, thanks to her handmade work and DIY “junk” aesthetic. She revives objects either found on the street or bought from hobby stores and alters them into uncanny worlds.

 

The show is designed chronologically, categorizing Genzken through the decades. She began working in the 1970s during the heyday of Minimalism, and her large-scale wooden floor sculptures were designed to question individuals’ experiences of modern environments.

Her work through the 1980s contrasts handmade works with modern engineering. Her textured plaster, concrete and steel sculptures drastically contrast with the sleek precision of skyscrapers one would see in New York City.

The new millennium brought a transition from objects to complex installations inspired by the deposits of consumerism. Genzken’s assemblage sculptures repurpose everyday forms into unexpected placements that are both theatrical and humorous.

What to see at MoMA's 'Isa Genzken: Retrospective'



  • Acting as gatekeepers to Genzken’s DIY world, “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013) resembles a sideshow jamboree of affected hipsters. Premiering at MoMA, this carnivalesque installation (pictured above) features mannequins dressed in an assortment of clothes, collage and repurposed sculptures.

  • “Red-Yellow-Black Double Ellipsoid Twin” (1982) exemplifies Genzken’s early Minimalist-inspired career. The two lacquered wood sculptures negate the efficiency of modern engineering by traversing space horizontally rather than vertically.


‘Isa Genzken: Retrospective’
Through March 10
10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
The Museum of Modern Art,
11 W. 53 St.
General admission $25
www.moma.org

 
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