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Stedelijk Museum opens Isa Genzken's first major retrospective in the Netherlands
Installation view. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij.

AMSTERDAM.- The exhibition Isa Genzken: Mach Dich hübsch! presents a survey of the extraordinary oeuvre of Isa Genzken (Germany, 1948), one of the most influential artists of the last forty years. The exhibition is the first major retrospective of Genzken in the Netherlands and is her largest survey to date, comprising over 200 works. The exhibition opened during Amsterdam Art Weekend 2015.

Mach Dich hübsch! is an odyssey through four decades of an astonishing practice defined by artistic freedom and bold inventiveness. The first room introduces the concept of the exhibition. It was designed, in collaboration with Genzken, as a comprehensive installation of older works mixed with very recent work, which she created for this exhibition. In the following suite of galleries, Genzken’s oeuvre is presented as a montage, not a chronology, to highlight interconnections and thematic threads. The artist engages with themes such as artistic position, the body, identity, the (self) portrait, architecture, and big-city culture.

Genzken’s oeuvre is rooted in the medium of sculpture, and is distinguished by radical experimentation and the unconstrained use of media. The artist works across a wide range of media, which includes sculpture, installation, film, video, painting, work on paper, collage, and photography. The radical inventiveness of her work, rich in autobiographical elements and subtle social critique, serves as a reference point and inspiration source for generations of artists and art lovers.

Curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen says, "Isa Genzken creates art that engages with the present moment. With her startling sculptural vision, she reflects upon the material world around us and the structures that dictate our lives. Among artists, Genzken's embodiment of the challenging, unconventional tradition of the Stedelijk Museum is virtually without equal.”

The artist has a special relationship with Amsterdam. She visited the Stedelijk Museum in her youth, and held one of her first exhibitions in the Amsterdam gallery Van Krimpen. The Stedelijk has been collecting her work since 1985, and holds several key works from her oeuvre. In 2014, newly appointed director Beatrix Ruf’s first acquisition for the museum was a Genzken painting, Zwei Lampen (1994).

The exhibition's title Mach Dich hübsch! is derived from the special artist’s book, published on the occasion of the exhibition. The book, a scrapbook in the style of Genzken’s well-known publication I Love New York, Crazy City, is full of playful collages in which she reflects on big-city life, media culture, sexual identity, and her own biography. The original publication is on view in the exhibition. A facsimile is available in the shop, priced at € 39,80 (ISBN 978-3-86335-869-3).

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