Günther Uecker

(1930 in Wendorf, Germany)

Günther Uecker, also known as Guenther Uecker, (born 13 March 1930) is a German sculptor, Op artist and installation artist. Uecker was born in Wendorf, Mecklenburg. He began his artistic education in 1949, when he took up studies at Wismar. He then went to the art school in Berlin-Weißensee and, in 1955, to Düsseldorf, where he studied under Otto Pankok at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Uecker met the group ZERO with Heinz Mack and Otto Piene in 1960, artists who propagated a new beginning of art in opposition to the German Informel. He occupied himself with the medium of light, studied optical phenomena, series of structures and the realms of oscillation that actively integrate the viewer and enable him to influence the visual process by kinetic or manual interference. Uecker, Mack and Piene began working together in joint studios at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1962, and installed a ‘Salon de Lumière’ at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Other ‘light salons’ followed in Krefeld and in Frankfurt. Since 1966, after the group ZERO dissolved, Uecker increasingly used nails as an artistic means of expression—a material that, until today, stands in the centre of his oeuvre. At the beginning of the 1960s, he began hammering nails into pieces of furniture, musical instruments and household objects, and then he began combining nails with the theme of light, creating his series of light nails and kinetic nails and other works. a-x Zero Garden from 1966, in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art, demonstrates his use of nails to create the illusion of movement. Light and electricity continued to be one of the main subjects and natural materials as well as sand and water which he included in many of his installations. Uecker’s oeuvre includes painting, object art, installations, stage designs and films. His origins explain his interest in the eastern European avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s. However, he is particularly fascinated by the Asian cultures and their ideas. His works can be now admired in many collections and large fairs both in the West as well as the East. Uecker’s artistic creativity reaches its climax in 2000 in the prayer room he designs for the rebuilt Reichstag building in Berlin. Furthermore, from 1974 until 1995, Uecker taught at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and was promoted to professor in 1976. With Otto Piene, Heinz Mack and Mattijs Visser he founded in 2008, the international ZERO foundation. The foundation has the complete ZERO archives from three Düsseldorfer artists as well as documents and photos from other related artists.