Berlin-Based Artist Isa Genzken Wins Prestigious Nasher Prize

The Nasher Sculpture Center announced it’s 4th annual prize for sculpture will be presented to German artist Isa Genzken next April as the 2019 Nasher Prize laureate. The international award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, was established “to honor a living artist who elevates the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities.” Founded in 2015, Genzken follows previous prizewinners Doris Salcedo, Pierre Huyghe, and Theaster Gates. 

Portrait Isa Genzken

“We’d be hard pressed to name an artist with a more textured and dynamic sculptural practice than Isa Genzken,” says Nasher Director Jeremy Strick. “Her work not only straddles an array of forms that complicate and enrich our understanding of sculpture, but she also consistently challenges the way an artist’s career and oeuvre might look, breaking apart the notion of specialization within an individual studio practice. Her work can feel utterly urgent and visceral—fraught with emotion—while at other times, objects are rendered with such precision as to seem free of human touch. This range of material and conceptual rigor has positioned Genzken as a major influence on younger generations of artists working today amid the clamor of the digital age, offering permission and encouragement to subvert norms and invent new possibilities.”

Genzken, who is considered one of the most influential artists since of the last 30-some years, was chosen by an esteemed international jury of museum directors, curators, artists, and art historians who are experts in the field of sculpture. The 2019 Nasher Prize jurors are Phyllida Barlow, artist; Huma Bhabha, artist; Pablo León de la Barra, Curator at Large, Latin America, Guggenheim Museum; Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator, National Gallery of Art; Okwui Enwezor, Director, Haus der Kunst, 2011-2018; Briony Fer, Professor, History of Art, University College London; Yuko Hasegawa, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo; Hou Hanru, Artistic Director, MAXXI, Rome; and Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England. 

“Isa Genzken makes work that retains its spontaneity right to the last. She uses an extraordinarily diverse range of materials and forms, so there is a continuous unpredictability as to what the next body of work might and can be,” says Nasher Prize juror, Phyllida Barlow. “The work is always evolving and therefore her influence is exceptional on artists of all ages.”

Isa Genzken
”Hallelujah (Yellow)”, 2012
MDF, metal, plastic, glass, mirror foil, perspex, globe, plastic figure, casters
256 x 101 x 55 cm

In 2013, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Dallas Museum of Art, presented Genzken’s first American museum survey, Retrospective, reaching back to the mid-1970s. From September 2014 to January 2015, the Dallas Museum of Art, Isa Genzken: Retrospective was mounted in the Barrel Vault gallery and displayed the artist’s diverse practice, Genzken will receive a Renzo Piano-designed award, the architect of the Nasher Sculpture Center, at a ceremony in Dallas on April 6, 2019. 

Nasher Prize juror Pablo León de la Barra says, “I’m very impressed by the influence her work has had on younger generations, and how it continues to spark questions and inform thought on what sculpture could be today.”  

The 2019 Nasher Prize is generously co-chaired by John Dayton and Fanchon and Howard Hallam, who help garner support for the prize and its attendant programs, including the Nasher Prize Dialogues.

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