Heinz Mack “From ZERO to Today, 1955-2014”

Sperone Westwater

poster for Heinz Mack “From ZERO to Today, 1955-2014”

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Sperone Westwater announces the exhibition “Heinz Mack: From ZERO to Today, 1955-2014.” Mack co-founded the ZERO group, organizing an inaugural series of one-evening exhibitions with fellow German artist Otto Piene in Düsseldorf in 1957. An extensive network of like-minded artists grew out of these early exhibitions, envisioning a conceptual “ground zero” that would revitalize postwar artistic practice. Featuring a comprehensive overview of Mack’s work from the ZERO years (1957-66), the exhibition at Sperone Westwater will run concurrently with the survey “ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In 1958, Mack coined the term “light reliefs” to describe shallow wall-mounted works with patterned metallic surfaces dramatizing the play of light and shadow. The early paintings on display similarly repress color in favor of “pure” dynamism, particularly a series of Dynamic Structures, which simulate a kinetic quality in their sharp configurations of parallel strokes. As Mack describes, “Individual parallel zones gradually transform themselves from zone to zone, while at the same time they retain their distinct but mutual character - in this way they are brought into vibration.”A black and white Dynamic Structure painting from 1959-60 evokes light flashing across a dark support, heralding Mack’s growing desire to extend the effects of metallic relief into other media. Kinetik movement (Lammellen-Relief) (1967) develops these effects further through the literal application of neat aluminum strips to a wood surface.

Recent paintings with banded colors and geometric progressions will also be on display. Departing from the early monochromes, these works carry forward Mack’s central investigation of light effects through widely varying material and chromatic conditions. As Mack notes, “the quality of light, that is its beauty, is essentially a purely sensorial value, its perception a creative act of freedom within the sphere of our sensibility.”

The exhibition will also feature rarely exhibited 1960s photographs recalling similar experiments of the Bauhaus period. These works suggest ZERO members’ interest in this earlier avant-garde and the spirit of cooperation and cross-medium experimentation it espoused. Mack’s photographic experiments resulted in compelling works whose imagery hovers between the organic and graphic, as well as generating new sculptural forms. The exhibition presents a full circle of Mack’s engagement with light, from the development of source imagery to the animation of kinetic and static works alike.



from October 10, 2014 to December 13, 2014

Opening Reception on 2014-10-10 from 18:00 to 20:00


Heinz Mack

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