Heinz Mack

Born 1931 in Lollar, lives in Mönchengladbach.

Heinz Mack studied from 1950 until 1953 in the painting class of the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf which he compleated by taking the state examination. Furthermore, in 1956 he took the state examination in philosophy at the University of Cologne. In the same year he met for the first time Mathieu, Tinguely and Klein in Paris. After this he applied himself intensively to Informal painting, developing, by the middle of the
50s, his first dynamic structures, which he transcribed into painting and drawing as well as plaster and metal reliefs. In 1957 he founded the ZERO group together with Otto Piene and with him (and later Uecker) organised the legendary evening exhibitions in the studio in Gladbacher Straße in Düsseldorf. Until 1961 the two artists published in total three editions of the magazine ZERO. At the end of the 50s Mack constructed his first light-steles and cubes. In Paris in 1958 he exhibited a model of a vibrating light column in the desert at the GaIerie Iris CIert, a work that, among others, he used in his Sahara Project. The Rotoren (aluminium foil combined with two turning corrugated glass sheets, mounted one behind the other) constitued in 1959 the first motor-driven light sculptures in his work. A year later he showed, in the context the Hommage à Georges de la Tour in Berlin's GaIerie Diogenes, his first phosphor pictures and fire sculptures. From 1962 until 1963 he stayed in Morocco and Algeria, where he experimented with light in desert for the first time. At the same time, together with Piene and Uecker, he deveIoped water, light and wind sculptures. After his, for the time being, last picture on canvas of 1963 Mack turned to chromatic colour pictures, in which the spectrum of light would be varied. From 1964 until 1966 he spent some time in New York. After his return the last ZERO group exhibition took place, after which they finally disbanded. In 1968 for the film TeIe-Mack he realised the Sahara Project in the Tunisian desert. On the occasion of the Expo in Osaka he deveIoped a mirror plantation, a water sculpture and a fire forest. Due to the attention that he attracted there he was appointed teacher of the sculpture course at the Art Academy in Osaka. In the 70s and 80s he applied himself overridingly to creating monumental outdoor sculptures and the design of public squares (e.g.: Jürgen-Ponto-PIatz in Frankfurt a.M.) as well as stage sets for theatre and opera. In 1991 he developed, for the first time in years, large-format painted pictures.

Anette Fulda-Kuhn, Mack. Druckgraphik und Multiples, Stuttgart 1990

Mack-Lichtkunst, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Ahlen, 1994

Heinz Mack. Farbe Raum Licht. Von ZERO bis Heute, exhibition
catalogue, Brandenburgische Kunstsammlungen, Cottbus et al 1994/95

Heinz Mack. Ausgewählte Werke von 1959-2001, exhibition catalogue, Galerie am Lindenplatz, Vaduz 2001

Otto Piene

Born 1928 in Laasphe, died 2014 in Berlin.

From 1948 until 1950 Piene studied at the Blocherschule and at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Munich and subsequently moved to the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. In 1957 he took the state exam in philosophy at the University of Cologne and at the same time worked as an art teacher. From 1955 Piene created letter reliefs and perforated grid-light boxes; two years later he developed the first of his grid pictures (monochrome vibration structures, that offered resistance to light). At the same time, together with Heinz Mack he organised the first evening exhibition in his studio in Gladbacher Straße in Düsseldorf and up until 1961 they edited ZERO magazine, issues 1 to 3. At the end of the 50s Piene staged his archaic light ballet in Gallery Schmela in Düsseldorf and developed the first of his smoke drawings and his mechanised light sculptures. environments and fire pictures followed. In 1962 he established, along with Mack and Uecker the first Salon de lumière on the occasion of the NUL exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Over the course of the 60s Piene experimented with multimedia performances and with light, smoke, fire and air as well as helium sculptures. In 1964 he took up his first visiting professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; a year later he moved to New York. At the same time he developed light sculptures for the new Stadttheater Bonn, which led to his garnering of commissions to the present day that connect art and architecture. In 1968 the first large Sky Event Light Line Experiment took place, using over 300 meters of illuminated poIyethylene tubing filled with helium, in which Piene merged the phenomena of light and weightlessness with the natural elements. A year later he created a manned helium sculpture releasing Susan Peters into the air. In 1974 Piene became the Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he widened the scope of telecommunications, laser, video, hologram, sky art and environment art. From the eariIy 80s he combined the smoke and fire pictures with the grids of his ZERO period and from 1998 onwards he developed light rooms for various museums. such as the Kunsthalle Bremen.

Piene. Light Ballet, exhibition catalogue, Howard Wise Gallery, New York 1965

Piene und das CAVS. 36. Jahresausstellung des Deutschen Künstlerbundes, exhibition catalogue, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe 1988

Piene. Retrospektive 1952-1996, edited by Stephan von Wiese, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf 1996

Piene. Die Sonne kommt näher, exhibition catalogue, Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Siegen 2003

Günther Uecker

Born 1930 in Wendorf (Mecklenburg), lives in Düsseldorf.

From 1949 until 1953 Uecker studied at
the Fachhochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Wismar and at the Kunstakademie in Berlin Weißensee, where he was confronted with the doctrine of Socialist Realism. In 1955 he left to study at the Kunstakademie DüsseIdorf in the class of Otto Pankok; there he worked on woodcuts, informal pictures (finger painting and dirt pictures) and nail objects. In 1957 he got to know Yves Klein, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene and realised his first Nagelbild Informelle Struktur. While in these early works the material character still stayed in the foreground, Uecker deveIoped, in the following year, serial horizontal and vertical structures. He took part in the seventh evening exhibition in the studio in Gladbacher Straße in DüsseIdorf, organised by Mack and Piene. In 1960 the tactile objects and seIf-turning light structures developed as well as the arrow pictures, for which the artist shot arrows through canvas at the Festival d'art d'avantgarde in Paris. A year later Uecker sented the first Abgesunkene Strukturen, in which rows of nails under the canvas compressed the surface above, and also staged the first light plantation, accompanied by the first light film. In 1962, having joined the ZERO group in 1961, the artist covered the first pedestrian second-hand objects, as sewing machines, tables and pianos, with nails. In the middle of the 60s he completed his self-turning nail bags as well as well as his sand spirals and took up a studio in New York. In 1967 the multimedia interaction bar, Creamcheese, opened in Düsseldorf, where filmic experiments, kinetic objects, happenings and text recitals were presented. Uecker was involved in both the layout of the bar as well•as the programme. A year later, on the occasion of the presentation of a 2O-meter high nail piece for the Dortmund Kaufhof façade, he edited the first edition of the Uecker Magazine; nine further editions were to follow. At the beginning of the 70s he worked on musical projects and the structure field, Hommage à Strzeminski, while travelling extensively throughout Africa and Latin America. In 1976, together with Klaus Rinke, Günther Uecker was appointed Professor of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In the 80s he clarified his connection with nature through the so-caIled nail forests as well as the ash pictures, which were motivated by the nuclear reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl.


Uecker. Zeichnungen, exhibition catalogue, Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf 1975

Günther Uecker. Eine Retrospektive, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, München 1993

Günther Uecker. 20 KapiteI, exhibition catalogue, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein im Martin-Gropius-Bau, Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, Ostfildern 2005

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