By Lisa Lee
The work of German sculptor Isa Genzken is brilliantly receptive to the ever-shifting conditions of modern life. In her first book devoted to the artist, Lisa Lee reflects on Genzken’s tendency to think across media, attending to sculptures, photographs, drawings, and films from the entire span of her four-decade career, from student projects in the mid-1970s to recent works seen in Genzken’s studio.
Through penetrating analyses of individual works as well as archival and interview material from the artist herself, Lee establishes four major themes in Genzken’s oeuvre: embodied perception, architecture and built space, the commodity, and the body. Contextualizing the sculptor’s engagement with fellow artists, such as Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman, Lee situates Genzken within a critical and historical framework that begins in politically fraught 1960s West Germany and extends to the globalized present. Here we see how Genzken tests the relevance of the utopian aspirations and formal innovations of the early twentieth century by submitting them to homage and travesty. Sure to set the standard for future studies of Genzken’s work, Isa Genzken is essential for anyone interested in contemporary art.