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Isa Genzken

Sculpture as World Receiver

The work of German sculptor Isa Genzken is brilliantly receptive to the ever-shifting conditions of modern life. In this 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.

192 pages | 68 color plates, 12 halftones | 7 x 9 | © 2017

Art: Art Criticism, European Art


"Combining acute visual observation, deep-reaching historical understanding, and subtle theoretical speculation, Lee reveals the singular aesthetic intelligence guiding Genzken's work--and demonstrates, in the process, her signal importance for contemporary art."

Graham Bader, Rice University

"Lisa Lee has delivered a much needed monograph of one of the most important yet understudied artists of our times. The terms of this historical study, spanning work from the 1970s until today, reveal just why Isa Genzken is such a quintessentially contemporary artist--above all by pushing beyond the tired category of German art and paving the way for artistic engagements with multinational capitalism and globalism. Genzken's ever-expanding materials and iconography, bursting with cultural references, echo in Lee's evocative yet always lucid writing."

Christine Mehring, University of Chicago

Table of Contents


1          Geometries of Lived Perspective
2          Make Life Beautiful!
3          Plastic Allegories
4          Radical Exposure


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