nails and graphite on canvas on wood
60 x 60 cm (23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.)
verso signed, dated and titled
In 1958 Otto Piene and Heinz Mack founded ZERO in Düsseldorf, Günther Uecker joined the group in 1961. For these young artists, ZERO was a new beginning. Working closely with like-minded artists from all over Europe, ZERO had a major influence which reached over the Atlantic. Light and movement were pivotal points of their works. New technological inventions opened never known possibilities and allowed them to experiment. Piene's material was light and fire, Mack's was metal and structure, and Uecker's nails and light. He hammered nails into flat surfaces, often also into objects. As the day progresses, or with the movement of the viewer, the shadows of the nails change, intimating movement. Uecker created spirals, organic shapes, and clusters by changing the angle of and the distance between the nails, and "Reihungen" - sequences, in which he placed the nails straight and with the same, exactly measured distance. The contrast between the often rough material and the brutal creation of the works and the poetic result is surprising. Using nails and only one colour - usually white - in his pictures as a radical new artistic language liberated Uecker from the shackles of conventional art.