“Nüsschen,” the German artist Isa Genzken’s 14th solo show with Galerie Buchholz, presents the seminal “Schwarzes Hyberbolo ‘Nüsschen’” (Black Hyperbolo ‘Nüsschen’)” (1980) alongside related works on paper and a photograph from her “Ohr (Ear)” series. The titular work, a slender, lacquered wood sculpture nearly twenty feet long and sinuously tapered in the middle, is based on a geometric form calculated on a computer; the nearby “FVWB Hyperbolo” (1981), a computer printout, is an example of a similar plan. Simultaneously organic and cybernated, “Schwarzes Hyberbolo ‘Nüsschen’” is indicative of Genzken’s push-and-pull relationship with the prevailing abstraction of the time, as well as her early interest in computer-based work.
Included in the show are not only precise plans—with carefully-measured dimensions, side views, and elevations—but also a roughly sketched drawing with loose hatches in green and teal marker (“Untitled,” n.d. (ca. 1979)), as well as a single large-scale photograph (“Ohr [‘Ear’] (1980)). Knowing the wide-ranging work that came after these early works—the mayhem of her assemblages, the x-rays prints, an imagined building design for Ground Zero—this collection of pieces from the early 1980s might seem uncharacteristically muted. “Nüsschen,” meaning “little nut,” may evoke not only the titular sculpture’s kernel-like form, but also, perhaps, its explosive potential.
Isa Genzken, Ohr, 1980. Chromogenic color print mounted on chipboard in artist's frame (framed: 176.5 x 120 x 3 cm).