Heinz Mack

Light – Space – Colour

18 March to 10 July 2011

Heinz Mack is a co-founder of the ZERO movement. Since the late 1950s, he has had a lasting influence on art as a painter, light artist and sculptor. On the occasion of his 80th birthday and due to his rediscovery by the art world, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany is dedicating an extensive homage to him.

This exhibition comprises 130 works which were created from 1953 onwards and which emphasise the continuity of Heinz Mack’s utopian concept of art. The perception of light, space and colour plays a central role in his work. Art and the environment, the poetic and the mundane, and philosophy and physics are experimentally combined in his work – the constant endeavour to reinterpret traditional forms of art and to try out new techniques within artistic contexts manifests itself in this approach.

Prelude – Light and Space
Two new light installations by the artist serve as a prelude to the exhibition: firstly, the illuminated rotating mirror in the stairwell in front of the atrium which creates a confusing spatial impression, and secondly, “Zikurat”, which is bathed in gleaming light and seems to spiral up into the sky. This sculpture can be found in the entrance area.

ZERO – The Zero Hour
The tour through the exhibition begins with the early works which Heinz Mack created during his time in the Düsseldorf artist group ZERO. After graduating from the Düsseldorf Art Academy, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene tried to establish a new artistic direction as an alternative to the Informel and Tachisme trends which were prevalent during the post war era. As their aim was to incite a fresh start, they proclaimed the “Zero Hour” in 1957. The artists introduced their new experiments with movement and light in Heinz Mack’s studio in Düsseldorf. These exhibitions coincided with the founding of ZERO (Vol. I–III), a catalogue periodical in which they propagated their artistic ideas.

International Success
Early on the ZERO artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, who were subsequently joined by Günther Uecker, had established contacts in the international art world. Artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Jean Tinguely and Yves Klein were among their acquaintances. Heinz Mack’s international success occurred after exchange exhibitions in Paris and Düsseldorf. In 1959 he took part in the documenta in Kassel for the first time. In the early 60s he had a studio in New York and in 1970 he was invited to Osaka as a guest professor.

From 1962 onwards, Heinz Mack began to receive widespread recognition that went beyond artistic circles. This popularity was inspired by his desert expeditions and also by his film Tele-Mack which won an award recognising his work at the Venice Film Festival in 1970. A separate room in the exhibition has been dedicated to his works in the desert which belong to the beginnings of the Land Art movement.

Light and Colour
A shining silver wall in the atrium of the exhibition area serves as the central light source. A total of 21 tonnes of aluminium foil scraps was generously donated by the Hydro Aluminium Rolled Products GmbH. Further rooms featuring different topics in Heinz Mack´s art surround the “silver light wall”. The tour leads from the multi-faceted and impressive light experiments, which the artist has been developing since the 60s, to his famous silver reliefs. Prisms, cubes, moving rotors and a few exemplary sculptures by Heinz Mack, such as early wooden and light steles, are also on display. They are part of the development which led to Heinz Mack’s intense examination of colours especially in painting.

Affinity to Science
Heinz Mack’s affinity to contemporary science is evident in his focus on structure rather than composition. His early attempts to overcome the classic definition of art and the borders between art, technology and nature, his thoughts on alternative spatial and representational concepts, and also his experiments with light can be seen as forerunners of contemporary art today.

Extensive collaboration with the Jülich Research Centre is able to demonstrate the similarity between the visual approaches in Heinz Mack’s works and modern scientific techniques regarding perception and presentation. This cooperation does not only feature as a visual experience in the exhibition but also in various events in the supporting programme.

Show bibliography
  1. Portrait Heinz MackPhoto: David Ertl © Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Museumsmeile Bonn
Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4
53113 Bonn
T +49 228 9171–200

Opening hours

Mondays closed
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Thursdays–Sundays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
(including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)

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