Günther Uecker with Ali Aras

Günther Uecker was born on March 13, 1930, in Wendorf, Mecklenburg, Germany. He is a sculptor, set designer, and Kinetic artist. He studied art at Wismar and at the Berlin-Weissensse Academy from 1949 to 1953. His first work was social-realist in style. Until 1957 he attended the Düsseldorf Academy and during those years he started painting using relief elements. In 1957 he simplifed his palette to black, red, or white, and his work comprised patterns of dots or horizontal and vertical lines scattered across the surface of the painting.

The year 1957 also marked the production of the artist’s first nail relief. This was the first stage of his experimentation with relief, which would later lead him to apply other objects on the surface of the painting, such as corks or cardboard tubes. The nail-covered surface became the antithesis of a painted surface, allowing the artist to explore light arrangement via the shadows created by the nails. From 1960 onward, the artist, who had hitherto been arranging nails on the surface of the canvas according to regularized mathematical sequences, introduced organic patterns and structures to his work and created his first disc-shaped rotating sculptures and light boxes. Uecker was a friend of Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, and Otto Piene, and together they founded Gruppo Zero in 1961. They were interested in the visual/kinetic aspects within the emerging Kinetic Art movement; Gruppo Zero was, in fact, that movement’s German counterpart. As Kinetic Art was concerned with movement and dynamics, science and technology were primary concerns and linked the group to the Dadaists and Futurists. The Gruppo Zero soon became a reference point and inspiration for many European trends of those years, like the Gruppo T and the Gruppo N in Italy, and various Optical Art experiments throughout Europe. Uecker’s body of work includes oscillating sculptures and nail-covered chairs, tables, and pianos. From 1966 onward, the artist began to incorporate high-frequency electrical power into his work and began to make large outdoor projects in 1969. His work also includes monochrome relief prints, films, and sets and costumes for the operas Fidelio (1974) and Parsifal (1976). The artist currently works and lives in Düsseldorf.

Aras has a long history of collaboration and friendship with Uecker. The artist has been exhibited at our gallery on numerous occasions and we have published graphic works.