- Digital Formats
concrete, steel frame
258 x 66 x 76 cm
A concrete sculpture is standing at head height on a frame of steel tubes. Three walls form a space approximating a cube, open only on one side and on the top—a kind of “yard.” The wall is cast in concrete in several stages. This method leads to separate building blocks laid one upon the other. Organic lines such as can be observed when layers of sediment settle are created where the blocks meet one another. The remains of white paint can be seen on the concrete. The size of the sculpture is somewhere between that of an architect‘s model and a walk-in space. The object looks incomplete, like a fragment. The broken-off upper edges and corners make it look like a ruin.
From the late 1980s, Isa Genzken, who was born in 1948, produced a number of these concrete sculptures. In these works, we can see allusions to the destroyed city centres after World War II in which the artist grew up, and also to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which changed both political conditions and physical spaces in Germany. The material of concrete—the most significant building material of modernism—stands for clear formal idioms and also for utopian aspirations, ranging from the work of Le Corbusier to the post-war high-rise tenement blocks. “Yard” permits all of these different perspectives of interpretation.
When viewed directly, the work of Isa Genzken unfolds its true strength. The size of the sculpture facilitates a direct physical experience of space when standing before an architectural form, and thus also leads to a reflection at eye level on the fundamental significance that architecture has in our everyday lives. Architecture often plays an important role in the works of Isa Genzken. In one of her rare interviews she expresses this very clearly, saying that she is indeed fascinated by architecture. “You live in it, you work in it, you need it every day, sometimes it is bad – mostly, and sometimes it is very beautiful.”
Isa Genzken cannot be reduced to one particular material. In 2007 she covered the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale with an orange plastic construction site fence. At Documenta 11 in 2002 she showed the series “New Buildings for Berlin” made of colourful glass plates. The most important principle of her art is the assemblage of many different things and materials. Although Isa Genzken works with very different materials and her art cannot be defined in terms of any one visual language, her works remain easily recognisable. They all share a freedom in the use of the materials the artist selects to make her sculptures.
Text by Maximilian Bauer