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Conceptual Artist Isa Genzken Gets Her First MoMA Retrospective


Isa Genzken

An army of mannequins clad in vibrant plaids, masks, and cowboy hats. A cherry-red assemblage fashioned from a Coca-Cola cart. A photograph of a giant ear. These are just a few of the works one encounters while touring German artist Isa Genzken’s new show at the Museum of Modern Art.

The exhibition marks Genzken’s first retrospective stateside, presented with support from Céline. (Creative director Phoebe Philo is a huge Genzken fan, and flew to New York to toast the opening with a party.) “It’s past time,” says MoMA curator Laura Hoptman. “It’s a goldmine of innovative work by a strong woman artist that had never been seen in the United States. It was kind of a curator’s dream.” Indeed, visitors unfamiliar with Genzken who, now 65, has been producing art for the past forty years, are given much to explore, from the artist’s minimal wooden Ellipsoids to her unsettling found-object sculptures to her imposing comments on metropolitan architecture.

“Genzken has a broad brush. She’s moved from one language to another with alacrity,” says Hoptman. “There’s a seamlessness to how she looks at how we live every day—the junk we see on Canal Street, the construction sites, the cool clothes, the beat of techno music—that’s embedded in this very lofty ideal of what culture is. For me, that is the future of contemporary culture—it’s high, low, and everything in between. She’s very much a banner woman for that.”

Here, Hoptman shares her thoughts on a few of the highlights from the show.

Isa Genzken: Retrospective runs through March 10 at the Museum of Modern Art, .

Photo: Jonathan Muzikar

Dept. of Culture