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First large-scale American retrospective of Isa Genzken's work opens in Chicago
Isa Genzken, Kinder Filmen III, VI, VIII, XI, and XII (Children Filming III, VI, VIII, XI, and XII), 2005. Museum Ludwig, Cologne. © Isa Genzken. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents the first large-scale American retrospective of Isa Genzken, one of the most important and influential sculptors of the past forty years. This exhibition of work by the renowned Berlin-based German artist, organized jointly by MCA Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Dallas Museum of Art, seeks to introduce American audiences to the breadth of Genzken’s forty-plus-year career. Isa Genzken: Retrospective is on view from April 12 to August 3, 2014 and is organized by Michael Darling, MCA Chicago James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator; Sabine Breitwieser, former MoMA Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, Laura Hoptman, MoMA Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture; Jeffrey Grove, Dallas Museum of Art Senior Curator of Special Projects & Research; with Stephanie Weber, MoMA Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Genzken began exhibiting in the late 1970s, appearing regularly in solo shows at major galleries and museums as well as prestigious international group shows such as the Venice Biennale and dOCUMENTA. Her early work was initially inspired by Minimalism but quickly expanded to blur traditional distinctions between painting, sculpture, and photography. Genzken’s eclectic approach could be compared to other artists—Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, James Welling— but unlike them, Genzken cannot be defined by a single medium and she has made influential contributions in numerous fields.

This exhibition encompasses Genzken’s work produced over the past four decades, with the past decade being one of particular productivity for Genzken. During this time she has taken her interest in found objects and collage and created several bodies of work that have redefined assemblage for younger artists working today. These works range from smaller, diorama-like works to room-filling installations, incorporate photographs, kitschy souvenirs, pop culture cast-offs, cheap household products, and highend design objects. Genzken is interested in combining many materials to create evocative statements that are immediately recognizable by the public as hers. The breadth of her achievements—which includes not only three-dimensional works but also paintings, photographs, collages, artist’s books, performances, films, and public sculptures—has remained obscure in most of the United States, and many of the works in this exhibition are on view in this country for the first time.

Divided into chronological sections and arranged thematically within those sections, the exhibition presents major works and series as points that signal new phases or chapters in the artist’s body of work. The exhibition begins with Genzken’s Minimalist sculptures from the 1970s and early 1980s (Gelbes Ellipsoid [Yellow Ellipsoid] [1976], Rotschwarz- gelbes Ellipsoid ‘S.L. Popova’ [Red-black-yellow Ellipsoid ‘S.L. Popova’] [1981]), and her plaster, concrete, and epoxy sculptures from the 1980s (Mein Gehirn [1984], Bild [1989]), and culminates with series of assemblages that she began in the late 1990s and continues today (Spielautomat (Slot machine) [1999–2000], Kinder Filmen [Filming Children] [2005], Hospital (Ground Zero) [2008]). Two new large-scale works are on view for the first time: Untitled (2012), a monumental photo-collage, and Schauspieler (Actors) (2013), a multipart environment that features elaborately altered mannequins and props. Another major installation, Oil XI (2007), which was part of her installation in the German Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, is part of the exhibition.

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