In December, 2008, the ZERO foundation was established, a collaboration between the Düsseldorf ZERO artists Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, with the Museum Kunstpalast and financial aid from the City of Düsseldorf.

The idea of preserving, presenting, researching and furthering this movement by establishing a ZERO foundation arose on the occasion of the internationally oriented ZERO. Internationale Künstler-Avantgarde der 50er/60er Jahre retrospective mounted at Düsseldorf's Museum Kunstpalast in 2006.

The artists donated forty works as well as their archives from the days of ZERO, with important records such as photographs, correspondence and exhibition invitations and reviews. In the coming years, further works and documents of the times are to be gathered and made accessible to a wide public and to international research with the help of loans, co-operative projects and the development of exhibition projects and publications. These are to cover not only the ZERO period proper, but also the history of its influences through to the present day.

It is the good fortune of the foundation ­and as good as unique ­that the artists are able to bring their own commitment to it. Thus scholarly research and consolidation will profit directly from their first-hand information on the ZERO period.


Managing Director:
Barbara Könches

Tiziana Caianiello, Katrin Lohe, Laura Weber, Thekla Zell

Board of Directors:
Friderike Bagel (Chairwoman), Jürgen Wilhelm, Claus Gielisch, Harry Schmitz, Felix Krämer

Board of Trustees:
Thomas Geisel (Chairman),  Friedrich G. Conzen, Alexander Fils, Elizabeth Goldring Piene, Andreas Kleffel, Anneliese Lenz, Hans-Georg Lohe, Heinz Mack (Vice Chairman), Christian Megert, Matthias Meis, Cornelia Mohrs, Robert Rademacher, Dorothee Schneider, Hubertus Schoeller, Günther Uecker, Stefan Wiedon

Academic Board of Advisors:
Daniel Birnbaum (Chairman), Maria Finders, Dorothea von Hantelmann, Ronald Jones, Dieter Jung, Sanford Kwinter, Roger Malina, Ute Meta-Bauer, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Christoph Türcke, Peter Weibel, Stephan von Wiese, Mark Wigley

Scientific Board:
Tiziana Caianiello (Chairwoman), Anton Melissen, Andres Pardey, Johan Pas, Dirk Pörschmann, Francesca Pola, Ulrike Schmitt, Thekla Zell


In 1958, at their studio at Gladbacher Strasse in Düsseldorf, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded ZERO. In 1961, Günther Uecker joined the group; and in 1966, ZERO disbanded.

ZERO designates a new beginning in artistic and historical terms to leave received principles of art behind. In the 1950s, still in the wake of the oppressive experiences of wartime and in distinction from the gestural painting of Europe’s brand of abstract expressionism, art informel, ZERO consciously elaborated a monochrome pictorial language suffused with light.

Pure colour or pure light as an epitome of cosmic powers becomes a synonym for the liberation of the individual. A third factor to open wide new horizons and to prompt experiments with new materials consisted of the new technological achievements. From now, light and movement are the central point of their art. Together with groupings of artists forming concurrently and with other, individually working artists in Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, ZERO revolutionised post-war art far beyond Europe’s limits with their new grammar of form and image.

What had begun in Düsseldorf would develop in less than a decade into one of the most significant avantgarde movements of the twentieth century. To this day, sixty years after the group’s foundation, the formal vocabulary of ZERO has lost nothing of its initial power and continues to be a point of reference for successive generations of artists.

After more than half a century of ZERO, the group and its wider circle are once again becoming a centre of public attention, this time in the shape of a foundation. The idea of preserving, presenting, researching and furthering this movement by establishing a ZERO foundation arose on the occasion of the internationally oriented ZERO. Internationale Künstler-Avantgarde der 50er/60er Jahre retrospective mounted at Düsseldorf's Museum Kunstpalast in 2006.

It was only logical and consistent that the foundation should be located in the city where the movement first took off.


The ZERO foundation has set itself the task of researching, preserving and presenting the works and documents of ZERO and, as a centre of scholarly investigation, is actively committed to reappraising the ZERO period.

The gifts of the founding members, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack and Günther Uecker, in the shape of works and records from the time of the movement, form the backbone of the collection and the work of the foundation. The ZERO foundation will be expanding its library and the archive continually, for example in receiving further artists’ archives and estates from the ZERO circle, or by collaborating with archives internationally.

The collection itself is also to be extended by donations in future, be it in co-operation with collectors and artists or by the accession of legacies. Several donors and patrons have already enlarged both the collection and the archive at the ZERO foundation decisively. Co-operations with international museums will offer the ZERO foundation the prospect of placing works at the disposal of renowned collections as permanent loans.

Among the manifold activities of the ZERO foundation in its international outlook are ZERO exhibitions in Germany and abroad. The next few years will see the foundation collaborate closely with renowned museums in realising exhibition projects and standing by with support for the content of the respective show. Findings of scholarly research will be published in catalogue contributions.

It is also a declared aim of the ZERO foundation to promote an interdisciplinary exchange between artists, scholars in the humanities and the sciences and protagonists of the performing arts, across generations. The ZERO foundation will support this by realising projects of its own, such as symposia, exhibitions and performances reflecting aspects of the ZERO period.

In the research sphere, the comprehensive artist archives will be studied over the next few years, recorded, digitalised and evaluated according to their content regarding featured themes such as the connections of Düsseldorf ZERO to the Netherlands or to Italy. The results will be presented in publications, either in exhibition catalogues or publications in their own right.

The Archive and the ZERO Library are in the process of being compiled and are open to researchers by appointment.


The ZERO foundation has important works in the collection from the following artists:

Mary Bauermeister, Kuno Gonschior, Oskar Holweck, Walter Leblanc, Adolf Luther, Heinz Mack, Almir Mavignier, Christian Megert, Otto Piene, Hans Salentin, Daniel Spoerri, Günther Uecker, Nanda Vigo, herman de vries.


ZERO und Nouveau Réalisme. Die Befragung der Wirklichkeit
Editors: Dirk Pörschmann, Stiftung Ahlers Pro Arte. Published by Stiftung Ahlers Pro Arte, Hannover, 2016

The Artist as Curator: Collaborative Initiatives in the International ZERO movement, 1957-1967
Editors: Tiziana Caianiello, Mattijs Visser. Editorial advisors: Antoon Melissen, Andres Pardey, Johan Pas, Dirk Pörschmann, Francesca Pola, Ulrike Schmitt, Thekla Zell. Edited by the ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf. Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle, 2015. ISBN 978-94-9177-568-0

ZERO: Die Internationale Bewegung der 50er und 60er Jahre
Editors: Dirk Pörschmann, Margriet Schavemaker. Exhibition catalogue, edited by the ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf, and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Cologne: Walther König, 2015
German version: ISBN 978-3-86335-696-5
English Version: ISBN 978-3-86335-697-2

4 3 2 1 ZERO
Editors: Dirk Pörschmann, Mattijs Visser, ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf. Richter/Fey Verlag, 2012. ISBN 978-3-941263-46-8

nul=0. The Dutch Nul Group in an International Context
Exhibition catalog Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, edited by Colin Huizing, Mattijs Visser, Rotterdam 2011, ISBN 978-9-0566-2838-3

Jef Verheyen - Le peintre Flamant
Exhibition catalogue "Jef Verheyen and Friends", edited by Dirk Pörschmann, Mattijs Visser, Langen Foundation, Neuss, 11.09.2010 - 16.01.2011. With an introduction of Mattijs Visser and essays from Tiziana Caianiello, Beate Kemfert, Dirk Pörschmann, Francesca Pola, Johan Pas, Jenny Trautwein, Brussels 2010, ISBN 978-9-4611-7006-4

Der Lichtraum (Hommage à Fontana)
von Heinz Mack, Günther Uecker und Otto Piene

Exhibition catalog edited by Heike van den Valentyn, with an essay by Daniel Birnbaum and an interview by Tiziana Caianiello, published by Museum Kunstpalast/ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf 2009.

Exhibition catalog edited by Mattijs Visser, with essays by Yves Klein, Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, Valerie Hillings, Catherine Millet, Heike van den Valentyn, published by the ZERO foundation/Sperone Westwater, New York/Düsseldorf 2008, ISBN 978-90-76979-73-1

ZERO – Internationale Künstler-Avantgarde der 50er/60er Jahre
With essays from Bazon Brock, Tiziana Caianiello, Heinz-Norbert Jocks, Catherine Millet, Lóránd Hegyi, Valerie L. Hillings, Heike van den Valentyn, Atsuo Yamamoto, Mattijs Visser, published by Museum Kunstpalast/Hatje Cantz, Düsseldorf/Ostfildern 2006, ISBN 978-3-7757-1747-2

Founders and Sponsors

The ZERO foundation is a German cultural institute, established in December 2008, with support of Düsseldorf-based ZERO artists, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, and Museum Kunstpalast. It is funded by the state capital Düsseldorf. 



 Stadt Düsseldorf






A circle of Friends of ZERO  - the association "Freunde der ZERO foundation Düsseldorf e.V." - has been successfully founded in January 2010. Already over 160 active members are registered. They will be supporting the foundation’s activities. Hubertus Schoeller (email) is chairman of the Friends of ZERO.

By establishing the circle of friends, the foundation aspires to bring together people who have that same passion in common – a passion for the ZERO period and its art. Members of this association will be able to become actively involved. For how could a foundation’s work succeed without committed friends?

Members will be able to attend exclusive events such as previews and visits to artist studios and collectors and to join outings to notable exhibitions at museums in Germany and its neighbours, with exclusive guided tours of the exhibitions and museum collections.

Opportunities will be offered to make personal acquaintances, for example in meeting artists, collectors and curators in personal. Friends and Patrons will receive advance notice of our planned projects and exhibitions; they will receive the regular ZERO journal and can purchase exhibition catalogues at special prices.

By purchases the Friends and Patrons can acquire significant works of the ZERO period. Thus, by way of permanent loans to the ZERO foundation, the ZERO Collection can be augmented by key works.


Board of Directors:

Hubertus Schoeller (Chairman), Stefan G. Drzisga, Till Breckner, Andreas Kleffel, George Lenz, Georg F. Thoma, Karla Zerressen


For further informations, please contact:

Freunde der ZERO foundation e.V.

c/o ZERO foundation

Hüttenstraße 104

40215 Düsseldorf



Web-Links to Artist-Archives

As a center of scholarly investigation we actively cooperate with international archives, institutions and estates in the context of the ZERO movement. A selected collection of web-links on artist-archives, estates and also artist webpages can be found below. The links in alphabetical order provide further sources and information on scientific research possibilities and also show path to further documentation- and photography archives on ZERO.









Archivio Opere Bernhard Aubertin

Stiftung für konkrete Kunst – Bernhard Aubertin

Pol Bury - Künstlerwebpage

Enrico Castellani Archiv Mailand

Archivio Gianni Colombo

Fondazione Lucio Fontana



Jan Henderikse Foundation

Yves Klein Archives Paris



Fondation Walter & Nicole Leblanc

Heinz Mack

Piero Manzoni Archive


Christian Megert

Henk Peeters

Jesús Rafael Soto

Daniel Spoerri

Jean Tinguely – Museum Tinguely

Nanda Vigo

Herman de Vries






Institut für Kunstgeschichte Heinrich-Heine Universität Düsseldorf
Graduiertenkolleg materialität und produktion

Adolf Luther Stiftung

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Center for Advanced Visual Studies, USA




Photo Archives:

Harry Shunk (Shunk - Kender) Archive
at Roy Lichtenstein Foundation

Manfred Tischer Archives

Charles Wilp

at Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz - bpk


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