Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden
Isa Genzken: Botanical Garden
19 July – 28 September 2014. Tues - Sun, 10am - 5.30pm
Installation views, Isa Gensken: Botanical Garden, Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2014. Images courtesy of the artist and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
Isa Genzken (b. 1948, Bad Oldesloe, Germany. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany) is one of the most important and influential artists of the last forty years. A tireless innovator throughout her long career, Genzken's practice has evolved from beginnings in Minimalist sculpture to a frenetic, aesthetic of superabundance that resists both comparison and definition.
A contemporary of Joseph Beuys, Carl Andre and Gerhard Richter, Genzken first came to prominence in 1970s post-war Dusseldorf with distinctive conceptual sculptures she named Hyperbolos and Ellipsoids, lacquered wood forms made possible with nascent computer technologies. As a constant polymath, Genzken’s work has advanced through a range of media and material including concrete sculpture, photography, the photographic readymade, painting, experimental film and, since the mid-1990s, large-scale sculptural assemblages and complex collage.
Although seemingly defined only by difference, Genzken’s work consistently returns to a number of foundational concerns apparent in most of her works. These include urban landscapes and metropolitan architectural forms, the sculptural potential of photography, and identity, the human form and an interest in natural beauty.
Botanical Garden focuses on later work made by Genzken within the last ten years including found-object sculptural assemblages and wall and floor-based photographic collage. These multi-layered, deliberately overloaded works frequently incorporate cheap, mass produced and universally recognisable items from toys to garments, shop mannequins, cartoon characters or photographs of landmark monuments, celebrities, disembodied limbs, and portraits of the artist herself, all graffitied with spray-paint or else embellished with tape.
Sculptures like Halleluja (Werkstatt) / Halleluja (New Museum), 2012 (room 2), replicate the towering structural mass of a New York skyscraper whilst the upright, translucent Perspex boxes of Untitled, 2012 (room 3) echo glass high-rises. The reflective aluminium surfaces of Soziale Fassade, 2003 and Flag, 2004 (room 1) also imitate the cladding and grid-like windows of modern corporate buildings in the city that reflect their immediate environment but do not reveal what is beneath the surface.
This mini metropolis is populated by Genzken’s ‘schauspieler’ or actors; life-size mannequins who are uncanny and sometimes absurd representations of familiar cultural types - savvy child consumers, urban hipsters and psychedelic fashionistas lifted out of an urban commercial world. Congregating in room one, these schauspielers reframe the gallery as a busy high street or even a dancefloor or, a place for social encounters and interaction, and posturing identities.
Each work in Botanical Garden is a narrative microcosm, chattering of contemporary culture, global issues, conflict and irreverence in a manner that both critiques and celebrates the carnivalesque, contradictory nature of the Western world. Works such as the billboard-sized wall piece Untitled, 2012 (room three), and the floor piece occupying most of room 4 could resemble a in its expanse bright demanding shape. Here the artist confronts the viewer directly in the first of many photographic self-portraits contained within her work.
Through a multitude of mirrors and different reflective surfaces, the space and those in it are drawn into the work. Hung low, mirrors avoid displaying a conventional view of the self instead reflecting abstracted hips, limbs and feet.
The unique context of the Royal Botanic Garden lends itself to new readings and juxtapositions of Genzken’s recent work, who through her own processes, brings together materials and objects from diverse sources in the same way the Garden’s Botanists gather together species of plants from all over the world; both artist and botanist enable a rich reflection on the extraordinary nature of the everyday.
Genzken’s recent absurdist documentary-pastiche Die Kleine Bushaltstelle (Gerustbau), a collaboration with artist Kai Althoff, is shown in the lower ground floor screening room.
Talk: David Bussel on Isa Genzken
Satuday 19 July, 3 - 4pm - Event Free
Curator and co-author of Isa Genzken: Ground Zero presents an in-depth discussion of the artist's work in relation to the new exhibition at Inverleith House. Part of 2014 the Edinburgh Art Festival.
- I still believe in miracles
- Raoul De Keyser: Paintings 1967 to 2012
- Nicolas Party: Boys and Pastel
- John Chamberlain
- Autumn Screening: Anne-Marie Copestake & Duncan Marquisswith speakers Isla Leaver-Yap & Francis McKee.
- Alex Dordoy: persistencebeatsresistance
- Corin Sworn
- Tony Conrad: Invented Acoustical Tools 1969 - 2014
- Derek Roberts: Northern Paintings
- Ciara Phillips: And More, Nature Printed and Rory McEwen: The Tweed Road
- Mostly West: Franz West & Artist Collaborations
- Dan Colen: The Illusion of Life
- Luke Fowler with Toshiya Tsunoda and John Haynes
- William McKeown (1962 - 2011)
- Philip Guston: Late Paintings
- Andy Hope 1930: When Dinosaurs Become Modernists
- Claude Cahun (1884 - 1954)
- Sue Tompkins
- Thomas Houseago: The Beat of the Show (Indoor Sculpture)
- Robert Rauschenberg: Botanical Vaudeville
- Andrew Kerr - So Ensconced/Maya Deren
- Victoria Morton with films by Anne-Marie Copestake
- Vincent Fecteau and Forests and Gardens of South India: Hugh Cleghorn (1820 - 1895)
- Joan Mitchell
- Marc Camille Chaimowicz
- Hayley Tompkins: Autobuilding
- Cerith Wyn Evans
- John McCracken
- KARLA BLACK: SCULPTURES
- Tony Swain: Impure Passports
- Nick Evans: Primary School
- Louise Bourgeois: Nature Study
- John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884): Nature Study
- Richard Hamilton: Protest Pictures
- Juergen Teller - Awailable
- Lilian Snelling
- Andrew Miller - Sixes and Sevens
- William Eggleston - Portraits 1974
- Smith/Stewart: Enter Love and Enter Death
- Roni Horn - Angie and Emily Dickinson
- Rudolf Stingel
- Rungiah and Govindoo - South Indian Botanical Drawings 1826-1853
- Robert Ryman at Inverleith House
- Douglas Gordon - Superhumanatural
- Mat Collishaw
- Ian Hamilton Finlay - Sentences
- Mark Leckey - Jackin' World
- Keith Farquhar - New Work
- Robert Therrien
- Jim Lambie - Kebabylon
- Andy Warhol - Private Drawings From the 1950s
- Gary Rough - Mantelpiece
- Simon Periton - Mint Poisoner
- Julian Schnabel
- Hellen van Meene - Japan Series
- Ruth Vollmer
- Cathy Wilkes
- The Dapuri Drawings
- Alan Charlton
- Cy Twombly
- Stanley Kubrick - Still Moving Pictures 1945-1950
- Lucy McKenzie and Paulina Olowska - Heavy Duty
- Ulrich Ruckheim
- Franz West - Meeting Points
- Ed Ruscha – The Mountains
- Stella Ross-Craig - Drawings of British Plants
- Kevin Henderson - Zebra
- The British Art Show Five
- John Hutton Balfour's Teaching Diagrams (1845-1879)
- Laura Owens - New Work
- Lawrence Weiner - Time + Place
- Bloomberg New Contemporaries
- David Austen: New Work
- Richard Tuttle: Grey Walls Work
- Paul Keir: New Work &; Susan Derges: The River Taw
- Susan Derges: The River Taw
- Myron Stout
- Melissa Kretschmer: Tsunami (The Caledonian Hall, RBGE)
- Carl Andre: 12 Isohedra
- Angus Hood and Christine Frew
- In Visible Light: Photography and Classification in Art, Science and the Everyday, various artists
- The British Art Show 4, various artists
- Callum Innes
- Cecilia Vicuna: Precario: Words & Thread
- Absolut Blue and White, featuring; Catriona Grant, Gary Rough, David Shrigley
- Alan Johnston: Haus Wittgenstein/ Inverleith House
- Chris Drury: Vessel: Sculpture 1990-1995
- Lothar Baumgarten: Conservatory (The Glass Houses, RBGE)
- Raymond Booth: Japonica Magnifica, from the Fine Art Society, London
- Margaret Stones: The Flora of Louisiana (from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. USA)
- herman de vries: flora
- Andy Goldsworthy: Hand to Earth - Sculpture 1976-1990 (1990)
- Chris Drury: Shelters and Baskets
- Archive (1)
Browse through our diverse range of formal and informal education programmes for people of all ages and at all levels
RBGE publications include a range of titles with books on botany and botanical taxonomy, gardening and horticulture, art and history, children’s books and Guidebooks for all of our Gardens.
Knowledge Exchange links the research community with others.
Searchable Resource Centres
View our selection of searchable resource centres.
Check our latest news and connect with our experts
Find the ideal venue for your corporate event
Your dream wedding
The perfect setting to host your truly unique wedding.
Find out how you can support our work at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.