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Public Art Fund brings Isa Genzken's Two Orchids to New York City for first U.S. presentation
Isa Genzken, Two Orchids, 2015. Cast aluminum and stainless steel, lacquer. Height appr. 1000 cm. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin/New York and David Zwirner, New York/London Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

NEW YORK, NY.- On March 1, Public Art Fund brings acclaimed artist Isa Genzken’s Two Orchids to New York City. Originally presented at the 56th Venice Biennale’s All the World’s Futures exhibition in the spring of 2015, this is only the second time the work has been shown publicly. In New York City, the two flowers rise 34 and 28 feet in height above visitors entering Central Park from its southeast corner. Appearing delicate and willowy, despite their stainless steel construction, the impossibly thin stems are “tied” to straight metal shafts that support their beautiful white blooms. Isa Genzken: Two Orchids is on view March 1 – August 21, 2016 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

“More than twenty years after first making her famous outdoor ‘Rose’ sculpture, Genzken has again borrowed from the natural world to create an imposing new public installation. Whereas the red rose has long been a rather clichéd symbol of love, the orchid, once a more obscure and exotic bloom, has become increasingly ubiquitous. For Genzken, the decorative neutrality of the orchid makes it the quintessential flower of our period – global and porous to meaning,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator.

One of the most celebrated and influential artists of the last half-century, Genzken has worked in a broad range of mediums from painting, drawing, photography, and film to books, collage, assemblage, and sculpture. This prodigious practice has, in the past 15 years, moved increasingly away from abstraction and toward figuration and representationalism. Recent museum and gallery shows have featured riotous assemblages referring to the detritus, style, and material culture of the cities where she spends most of her time—her longtime home of Berlin, as well as New York, where she has been a frequent visitor and sometime resident for several decades. In contrast to these bombastic assemblages, Genzken’s Two Orchids, and its predecessor Rose II, which was installed on the façade of the New Museum from 2010-2013, achieve their impact through colossal scale, precise detailing, and careful placement. However, where Rose II was notable for its hyperrealism, the artist’s orchids are more stylized and cartoon-like. More subtly, through the choice of the orchid, Genzken refers to another frequent topic in her body of work: sexual identity. The delicate and feminine shapes of the blooms contrast with the bulbous nature of the orchid’s root, a reference to the Ancient Greek origins of the flower’s name (Orchis referring to the male sexual organs). As the stems appear to grow directly out of the plaza’s paving stones, the seemingly precarious forms of the flowers are belied by their hard, stainless steel construction. The artist has spoken of the connections between New York City and sculpture—their shared verticality and three dimensionality—and in Two Orchids her longtime interest in scale, material, and architecture, as well as her playful humor, are unmistakably present.

Isa Genzken (b. 1948, Bad Oldesloe, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. Major solo exhibitions of her work have been presented by institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 2015; Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria in 2014 (traveled to Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK 1), Frankfurt in 2015); The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2013 (traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art, both in 2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London in 2009 (traveled to Museum Ludwig, Cologne); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany in 2002 (traveled to Kunsthalle Zürich in 2003); The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 1992 (traveled to Portikus, Frankfurt; Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; Städtisches Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, both in 1993); and Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, Germany in 1988 (traveled to Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, both in 1989). In November 2015, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, will present the largest retrospective of her work in the Netherlands. In 2007, the artist represented Germany at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Her work has been prominently featured in international biennials and group exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale (2015, 2003, 1993, and 1982); Skulptur Projekte Münster (2007, 1997, and 1987); and Documenta (2002, 1992, and 1982). Her work is included in public and private collections across the globe including the Dallas Museum of Art; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Genzken is represented by Galerie Buchholz and David Zwirner.

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