Studio Sunday: Isa Genzken

A 1982 photo of Iza Genzken working in her studio


Isa Genzken is perhaps one of the most important and well-known female artists of the 20th century. Born in Germany, her practice has included all mediums – from painting, to photography, to public sculptures and books. In North America she is still most well known for her assemblage sculptures, where she uses found objects and raw materials in innovative, alien constructions.


In the above photo of her studio, it looks like Genzken is hard at work producing some of her long, minimalist wood sculptures, which she called Ellipsoids and Hyperbolos. The artist created a number of these long, smooth sculptures in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. The studio, located in New York, seems very large and very industrial. The low ceilings and concrete walls are unusual for the sorts of artist’s studios that I’m used to seeing today – there aren’t any stark white walls or rows of windows here. That said, with the brick walls in the corner this seems like the perfect place to make some really dramatic and interesting artwork!


While Genzken is still perhaps better known in Europe, she is gaining notoriety in North America. Her assemblage sculptures are always brightly coloured, with touches of neon, and even shiny mirror surfaces. Her work seems to have a sense of humour about it, particularly in the works that seem overloaded with extraneous materials. Genzken has said that she doesn’t like to create work that is obvious, or easy to understand on an initial viewing – it’s nice to take some time to think about what her works might be saying.  

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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