Isa Genzken

The first major monograph on the pre-eminent German sculptor.

Survey by Alex Farquharson, Interview by Diedrich Diederichsen, Focus by Sabine Breitwieser, Artist's Choice by Charles Baudelaire, Writings by Isa Genzken


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Isa Genzken’s (b. 1948) work encompasses sculpture, collage, painting and photography. One of the leading artists to have emerged in Germany since the 1980s, Genzken is notable for the way she combines personal elements with references to architecture, modernism and art history. She is interested in the ruins of material culture, particularly architectural detritus, and the combination of materials in her work is remarkable, encompassing animal heads, fluorescent plastic, spray-painted pine cones, concrete blocks, glass, mirrored sheets, aeroplane windows and children’s umbrellas, to name a few.

Her work can be aesthetically brutal, as with her Empire/Vampire series (2003-5) – agglomerations of toys and unrelated found objects roughly splattered with paint – and strikingly beautiful, as with her New Buildings for Berlin (2001-4) – small, impeccably crafted glass and silicone skyscrapers. One of her best known and loved works, Rose (1993/7), is a public sculpture of a single long-stemmed rose made from enamelled stainless steel that towers eight metres above Leipzig’s museum district.

Genzken has been exhibiting since the 1970s, and her work has appeared in many of the world’s highest-profile exhibitions, including Documenta (1982, 1992 and 2002), the Venice Biennale (1982, 1993 and 2003), Skulptur Projekte in Münster (1987 and 1997) and the Carnegie International (2005).

In the Interview with Diedrich Diederichsen, the artist discusses her work’s complex interplay between topical themes and historical modernism. Alex Farquharson’s Survey traces the evolution of Genzken’s work, beginning with her now-legendary first exhibition while still a student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Curator Sabine Breitwieser uses her Focus to examine the series Hi-Fi (1979), which centres on magazine advertisements for stereo equipment. For the Artist’s Choice, Genzken has selected a prose poem by Charles Baudelaire that reflects the poet’s modern mix of joy and delirium. Artist’s Writings include a scene from an unpublished screenplay, Genzken’s notes on her performance of an early Bruce Nauman exercise and a rare interview with friend and sometime collaborator Wolfgang Tillmans.


Format: Paperback
Size: 290 x 250 mm (11 3/8 x 9 7/8 in)
Pages: 160 pp
Illustrations: 125 illustrations
ISBN: 9780714844251

Alex Farquharson is Director of Nottingham Contemporary. As an independent curator in 2005 he organized the British Art Show 6 (Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol), and he has taught on the Curating Contemporary Art MA course at the Royal College of Art in London. His writings have been published widely in catalogues and art journals, including Frieze, Artforum and Art Monthly.

Diedrich Diederichsen is the critic most closely associated with Isa Genzken, and the world expert on her work. Noted for his writings on pop music, theatre, cinema and political issues as well as art, Diederichsen’s texts have appeared in Artforum and Artscribe, among other journals.

Sabine Breitwieser is a noted curator as well as the founding Director of the Generali Foundation, based in Vienna, for which she has established a renowned collection of contemporary art and curated numerous exhibitions, including a 1996 retrospective devoted to the work of Isa Genzken.

On the Contemporary Artists Series

"The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about."—Artforum

"The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art."—Time Out

"A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists."—The Sunday Times

"Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment."—The Art Book

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