For more than forty years, Genzken has continuously experimented with materials, techniques, and forms of display in sculpture. Her single, long-stemmed Rose II—cast in painted aluminum and steel and soaring to thirty-six feet—debuted in 2010 on the facade of the New Museum in New York, her first public installation in the United States.
The artist initially conceived of her monumental red rose in the early 1990s, when she was commissioned to make work by collector Frieder Burda—a resident of Baden-Baden, the famed rose capital of Germany. Although explicitly linked to Baden-Baden, that first version of Rose, made in 1993, is not physically anchored to any particular site. Genzken fabricated Rose in an edition of three, then went on to make slightly different versions of the work in similarly small editions, as Rose II and then Rose III (2016), broadening the sculpture’s narrative associations through this dispersed existence. Installed in MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, Rose II is a distillation of traits associated with New York, of which Genzken has spoken affectionately during repeated visits over the decades. Her rose’s superhuman size and inorganic materials correlate to the city’s uncannily large buildings and to an economy dependent on pervasive mass-produced goods, such as fake flowers. In the artist’s words, sculpture “must have a certain relation to reality.”
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)