Isa Genzken Oil: German Pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia


June 10 – November 21, 2007

When in the summer of 2006 Witte de With’s director Nicolaus Schafhausen was appointed as curator for the German Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, he asked Isa Genzken (b. 1948).

Schafhausen explained this choice by stating that “Genzken is one of the most uncompromising artists of today, capturing current times like almost no other contemporary artist”. For more than thirty years, Genzken has created a diverse oeuvre that spans sculpture, installation, photography, collage and film – a practice that continues to move and develop while constantly taking on new challenges. For Genzken, life and existence are just as complex as art itself. Her work stands in contradiction to a ‘one-trick pony’ society and culture, which searches for happiness in simple answers. This is perhaps why she is such an important influence for so many artists of subsequent generations.


Isa Genzken at the German Pavilion, Venice 2007, published by DuMont Literatur und Kunst Verlag, Cologne.

Texts by Liam Gillick, Vanessa Joan Müller, Juliane Rebentisch and Willem de Rooij. With a conversation between Isa Genzken and Nicolaus Schafhausen.

This official publication for the German contribution at the 52nd Venice Biennale focuses on Isa Genzken’s site-specific work for the pavilion. The authors offer a range of different approaches to her work – a diversity necessary for an understanding of the complexity inherent in the artist’s practice.

Statements from the ISA GENZKEN SPECIAL at Witte de With on March 24th:
“Isa Genzken was emerging out the new avant-garde, out of minimalism but doing something with it that was quite alien to its own terms. I think that this in some ways set the tone for her relationship to modernism in general.”
– Alex Farquharson

“What she contributes – not to the world, but to art – is that she makes art in such a way that you can deal with it and understand the contradictions and differentiate. That is exactly her leading question about urbanism. It is always connected to a kind of social, economic, political, current situation.”
–Kasper König

“An obsessive attention to the tensions within the concept of the beautiful itself prevades her work. It is perhaps also this obsession that holds the various phases of her oeuvre, frequently described by critics as markedly heterogeneous, together. Even Genzken’s courage to enter ever new uncharted territories, her affective aversion against the recognizable, seem driven by this obsession.”
–Juliane Rebentisch

“Her most complicated work is to deny a strategy. You have to get rid of strategic thinking to produce art. This is a very important aspect of her practice, and this for me is also the reason why she keeps getting better and better.”
–Nicolaus Schafhausen

The German Pavilion at the 52nd International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia 2007 is commissioned and sponsored by the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, and co-organised by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa, Stuttgart).

The main sponsor of the German Pavilion is Deutsche Bank.

Media partner is DW-TV Deutsche Welle. The pavilion is technically realised by the production team of Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art.

The core team of the German Pavilion:
Nicolaus Schafhausen, Witte de With, Rotterdam
Sophie von Olfers, Witte de With, Rotterdam
Roger Bundschuh, Bundschuh Architekten, Berlin
Markus Weisbeck, Surface Gesellschaft für Gestaltung, Frankfurt
Sven Bergmann, Bonn

Deutscher Pavillon
c/o Witte de With
Center for Contemporary Art
Witte de Withstraat 50
3012 BR Rotterdam
The Netherlands

For further information please contact Sophie von Olfers:, tel. 0031 (0)10 4110144

For press information please contact Sven Bergmann:, tel. 0049 (0)179 534 15 63

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