Günther Uecker Biography

A central figure of Düsseldorf's postwar Group Zero, Günther Uecker has for six decades developed his reliefs comprising dynamic arrangements of nails. Born in 1930 in Wendorf, Germany, Uecker studied at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee and Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where he lives and works today. In the 1950s, influenced by Eastern philosophy and Gregorian chanting, he began a ritual of hammering nails. These materials signify protection and creation to the artist, who remembers nailing planks over the windows of his home to deter Soviet troops after the Second World War. By 1957, he was hammering nails onto canvas to achieve a 'sundial' optical effect, casting light and shadow in ephemeral patterns. Soon, he integrated lightboxes, rotating discs, television sets, and chairs (Stuhl, 1963) into his nail sculptures. In 1961, Uecker joined Heinz Mack and Otto Piene in the anti-expressionist movement Group Zero, which prioritised expanding beyond the traditional dimensions of the canvas into kinetic, serial, and participatory realms. After the group's dissolution in 1966, Uecker's work incorporated aspects of conceptual and land art, and he began designing stage sets for operas. Among his public works are From Darkness to Light at the United Nations, Geneva (1978) and a Reflection and Prayer Room for the Reichstag, Berlin (2000). In 2020, he embarked on his series Lichtbogen, minimalist paintings of radiant blue-and-white arcs.

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Uecker's work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at museums worldwide. Retrospectives of his work have been organised by the Central House of Artists, Moscow (1988) and Kunsthalle München (1993), and he participated in Documenta (1964, 1968, 1977) and the 1970 Venice Biennale. His work resides in such collections as the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Tate Modern, London. Among his many honors are the Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts (2000) and the Staatspreis des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen (2015).

Text courtesy Lévy Gorvy Dayan.

Günther Uecker
featured artworks

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Positive-Negative by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Günther Uecker Positive-Negative, 1974 Nails and pencil on canvas on wood and aluminum object
20 x 20 x 4.5 cm
Galerie Thomas Request Price & Availability
Brockhaus für Brockhaus by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork sculpture
Günther Uecker Brockhaus für Brockhaus, 1992 Stones, nails, cement on plywood,
49 x 39 x 43.5 cm
Galerie Utermann Request Price & Availability
Spirale by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork print
Günther Uecker Spirale, 1972 Relief print
70 x 50 cm
SETAREH Request Price & Availability
Kosmos 12 by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork print
Günther Uecker Kosmos 12, 2003 Offset print on cardboard
68 x 48.5 cm
Galerie Thomas Contact Gallery
Aggressive Reihung by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork works on paper, sculpture, drawing
Günther Uecker Aggressive Reihung, 1970 Nails and graphite on canvas mounted on wood
60 x 60 x 6 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art Request Price & Availability
Selbstportrait by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork sculpture
Günther Uecker Selbstportrait, 1967 Plexiglas, iron-rods, metal and wood
187 x 60 x 60 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art Request Price & Availability
Lichtbogen by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork painting
Günther Uecker Lichtbogen, 2020 Watercolour and paint on canvas
300 x 200 cm
Lévy Gorvy Dayan Request Price & Availability
Doppelspirale 'Both' by Günther Uecker contemporary artwork mixed media
Günther Uecker Doppelspirale 'Both', 2019 Nails and white paint on canvas on wood
200 x 160 cm
Lévy Gorvy Dayan Request Price & Availability
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