Lot 218
  • 218


200,000 - 300,000 USD
399,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Isa Genzken
  • Gaudi
  • concrete and steel


Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1989, Gaudi belongs to the critical series of concrete and steel sculptures that German artist Isa Genzken created in the latter half of the 1980s. In Gaudi, Genzken constructs a chair from steel rods and slabs of raw, unrefined concrete, which she elevates to eye level on a stainless steel pedestal. Possessing a rough and elegiac beauty, Gaudi acts as a tribute to the modernist architecture and sobering philosophy of post-war Europe, and as a reference to and commemoration of the fallen Berlin Wall, whose demolition the very same year that Genzken executed Gaudi had immense implications for the physical and ideological landscape of Germany. The present work serves as a testament to Genzken’s ability and inclination to embrace different styles and materials throughout her career, allowing her to constantly develop and reinvent her own artistic practice in order to critically assess the political, architectural, and quotidian aspects of contemporary culture.

Like the fragments of the Berlin Wall, which were quickly removed from the site and installed in museums as emblematic artifacts of a historic moment, the decontextualized concrete slabs that compose Gaudi appear to be repurposed fragments of a once intact and now defunct architectural structure. Elevated on a steel plinth, they become anonymous stand-ins to commemorate any historical moment of destruction or construction. Gaudi compellingly addresses the tenuous duality of beauty and decay, of stability and fragility, which underlie Genzken’s oeuvre and about which Genzken poignantly states: “Fragility can be a very beautiful thing, more beautiful than something that is obviously made to last forever.” (Isa Genzken quoted in: Michael Krajewski in conversation with Isa Genzken, Parkett 69, 2003, p. 96.) 

Commenting on the complexity and beauty of Genzken’s oeuvre, curator Alex Farquharson states that “… the trajectory of Genzken’s work seems one of the most fascinating of its time. Rarely in sync with the artistic fashions of the day, her new departures have often only been properly understood some time after the event. Hers is an exceptionally complex oeuvre that has gained in significance over time” (Alex Farquharson, ‘What Architecture Isn’t’ in: Alex Farquharson, Diedrich Diederichsen and Sabine Breitwieser, Isa Genzken, London 2006, p. 33). Gaudi is exemplary of the deeply poignant and humanistic philosophy at the heart of Isa Genzken's aesthetic. Incorporating influences of Minimalism and Constructivism and seamlessly integrating practices of sculpture, photography, installation, and painting, Genzken’s visionary and variegated practice reveals an impressive capacity to translate her multifaceted philosophy into material physicality.