Isa Genzken. Wasserspeier and Angels

9 May-27 Jul 2024
PV 9 May 2024, 6pm-8am

Hauser & Wirth London
London W1S 2ET


A revival of Isa Genzken’s expansive installation ‘Wasserspeier and Angels’ (2004), marking 20 years since it was displayed in the artist’s first major solo exhibition in London.

Originally responding to Hauser & Wirth’s former historic space in Piccadilly in 2004, the re-presentation of Genzken’s complex assemblage in the city brings her work into a contemporary context, confronting socio-political themes that are still relevant today. This moment follows on from the acclaimed exhibition ‘Isa Genzken: 75/75’ at Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2023, celebrating the artist’s 75th birthday with a display of 75 sculptures from her oeuvre from the 1970s to the present.

The installation’s starting point came from the artist’s fascination with the ‘wasserspeier’ (gargoyles) on Cologne Cathedral, encountering their restoration in the building’s masonry shop. Having tried to convince the cathedral’s master builder to let her take the carvings to London, the artist instead created her own gargoyles for the exhibition in 2004, setting them in opposition with winged, angelic figures. Incorporating materials sourced for purpose—from fabrics, household items and books to aluminium panels, electric cables and industrial lights—this multifaceted installation contains layered references and takes on new meaning in today’s landscape.

The first presentation of this work not only marked Genzken’s inaugural show with the gallery but also captured a specific moment in time. Working in Berlin and in New York at the turn of the century, the artist witnessed the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent changing landscape of the city, as well as the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York City. Genzken explores the relationships between different media and social, political and urban spaces, with references to everyday lived experience intruding on her formal experiments.

Selected works