Heinz Mack. Works in Light (1956-2017)
8 May to 10 October 2021
The ZERO co-founder, painter and sculptor Heinz Mack has developed a staggering body of work over some 70 years of creative production. His pioneer work in the fields of Light Art, which he advanced in a series of visionary projects, exerts an unbroken fascination on us to this very day. Scarcely an artist of our times can, moreover, match up to him in terms of productivity and the diversity of his oeuvre.
The sheer wealth of media he has explored – from Light Art, kinetic works and Land Art, to drawings, painting, and sculpture – is itself impressive. Yet despite this rich palette of expressive means, Heinz Mack has concentrated with remarkable tenacity on subjects he discovered early on in his art: investigations into light, and the dynamic power of structures.
Driven by the desire to be free of the dead weight of the past, and open to fresh new materials unencumbered by associations, Heinz Mack and his fellow ZERO artists ventured a radical new departure in the post-war period that still has a great resonance in art today. Already in 1958/59 he conceived his Sahara Project, and over the following years he realized, stage by stage, the various ideas that went into it. This spectacular project will be presented in depth at the exhibition; among other highlights, the film Tele-Mack (1968/69) will be shown, in which the artist is portrayed amid the desert expanses conducting experiments on the nature of light.
And light is also the focal topic of the kinetic and sculptural works exhibited. Alongside three-dimensional works using modern materials, such as stainless steel, aluminium, and ribbed or acrylic glass, a selection of small marble sculptures are on view which underline the great importance the artist attaches to that classic genre. The exhibition is rounded off by Mack’s paintings, in the form of quite recent works in inks and on large canvases. In these Chromatic Constellations, as he calls them, light manifests itself through subtle chromatic tonalities and painted structures that set the picture surface in vibration.
This exhibition marks Heinz Mack’s 90th birthday and pays tribute to one of the great artists of our times. It gives a wide-ranging view of his work and brings together some 60 works whose poetic beauty shines out in the light.
Biography Heinz Mack
|1931 born 8 March in Lollar, Hesse|
|1950–56 studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (state exam in fine arts) and at the University of Cologne (state exam in philosophy)|
|1957 founded with Otto Piene the ZERO group in Düsseldorf, which was joined in 1961 by Günther Uecker|
|1958/59 first Light Reliefs, Light Cubes and Light Stelae; beginning of the Sahara Project|
|1964 studio in New York (until 1966); participated in documenta III, Kassel|
|1970 represented West Germany at the Venice Biennale (together with Thomas Lenk, Georg Karl Pfahler and Günther Uecker)|
|1977 participated in documenta VI, Kassel|
|1991 returned to painting on canvas (Chromatic Constellations)|
|2004 awarded the Order of Merit, Grand Cross, by the Federal Republic of Germany|
|2008 founded the ZERO foundation, Düsseldorf|
|2011 awarded the Order of Merit with Star by the Federal Republic of Germany|
|2017 awarded the Moses Mendelssohn Medal|
|Heinz Mack lives and works in Mönchengladbach and on Ibiza.|
Untitled (Chromatic Constellation), 2016
The Artist at the Grand Erg Occidental, 1976, photo: Thomas Höpker/archive Heinz Mack
Portrait of the artist in 2017
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2021, photos: archive Heinz Mack