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Heinz Mack

From ZERO to Today, 1955-2014
10 October – 13 December 2014
Sperone Westwater, New York
Heinz Mack

Press release

New York, NY – 5 September 2014: Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce 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.


Heinz Mack was born in Lollar in Hessen, Germany, in 1931. He studied painting at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Düsseldorf, from 1950 to 1953. In 1956 he received a degree in philosophy at the University of Cologne. In the beginning Mack dedicated himself to informal painting, which he fully rejected later on. Between 1957 and 1961, Mack and Piene published three editions of the magazine ZERO. Around 1964 Mack stopped making works on canvas, and focused instead on water, light and wind sculptures. In 1966 ZERO’s final group exhibition took place in Bonn. During the 1970s and 1980s Mack applied himself overridingly to creating monumental outdoor sculptures. The artist lives and works in Mönchengladbach and Ibiza. His works can be found in approximately 140 public collections worldwide.


An 88-page catalogue, featuring a conversation between the artist, Daniel Birnbaum, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, will be published on the occasion of the exhibition. A reception for the artist will be held on Friday, 10 October, from 6–8 pm. For more information and images, please contact the gallery at +1 212 999 7337, or

Artists in this Exhibition

Exhibition press

Artforum logo
500 Words
by Heinz Mack with Julian Elias Bronner
5 December 2014
Hyperallergic logo
The Origins and Evolution of Group Zero
By Robert C. Morgan
20 November 2014
Time Out New York logo
ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s at the Guggenheim
by Anne Doran
20 – 26 November 2014
Artspace logo
How the Zero Group Became One of Art History's Most Viral Movements
by Blair Ashby Brooks
5 November 2014