DIY for the modern aesthete: Isa Genzken Retrospect at MoMA

Isa Genzken “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013)

Isa Genzken “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013)

Read this review on Metro New York published Dec. 30, 2013

Isa Genzken’s handcrafted creations on view at Museum of Modern Art, NYC

“Isa Genzken” on view at MoMA is the first U.S. retrospect showcasing this German-born artist’s 40-year career. With over 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 an understanding of our environment. Subversive and comical, Genzken’s multimedia works fuse highbrow and popular culture creating both architectural forms and installations composed from the underbelly of urban consumerism.

Her artwork is refreshingly playful and accessible because of her personalized handmade forms and DIY “junk” aesthetic—where she revives objects either found on the street or bought from housewares and 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 to modern environments.

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

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:

Acting as gatekeepers to Genzken’s DIY world is “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013), which resembles a sideshow jamboree of affected hipsters. On view for the first time, thiscarnivalesque installation situated outside of the exhibition hall features mannequins dressed in an assortment of clothes, collage, and repurposed sculptures.

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

If you go:

“Isa Genzken: Retrospective” through March 10, 2014

Open Daily 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

The Museum of Modern Art,

11 West 53 Street,

General admission $25,

Isa Genzken “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013)

Isa Genzken “Schauspieler (Actors)” (2013)


One comment

  1. shellseeker0913 · December 29, 2013

    It is intriguing to view what Rauschenberg may have prepared us for. It continues the conversation about art and life being inseparable. Thank you for viewing and reviewing what others cannot be present for. Genzken’s work informs our thinking and helps to broaden our aesthetic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s