The Art of Zero: Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker & Friends

Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College

Jul. 13, 2024 - Sep. 28, 2014

73 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, New York 10577

In the wake of devastation wrought by World War II, European artists who were part of the Zero movement, attempted to re-harmonize the relationship between humankind and nature, proclaiming the “zero hour” of postwar art. In the late 1950s these progressive artists developed a new visual language to create a “new art for a new age.” Using industrial materials and technology they explored light, kinetics, and structure in a minimalist practice as they distanced themselves from Expressionism. For Otto Piene, Heinz Mack, and Günther Uecker, who made up the German ‘inner circle’, the word Zero was complex. As a number it represented nothing, a zone of silence. But as a shape it represented an endless form, a zone of pure possibility.

Beginning July 13, the Neuberger Museum of Art will present the exhibition The Art of Zero: Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker & Friends, featuring 22 iconic works by Group Zero artists that have never been shown together in this context. The works are selected from the Neuberger Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection, and more specifically from the George and Edith Rickey Collection of Constructivist Art. Almost all of the works in the exhibition were gifts to Rickey from fellow artists in the spirit of collaboration and exchange, a philosophy of the Zero movement.

Among the many superb examples on view are those that are personally inscribed by artists who often traded their pieces with Rickey for one of his own works — works by Getulio Alviani, Hartmut Böhm, Enrico Castellani, Gianni Colombo, Lucio Fontana, Hans Haacke, Heinz Mack, Almir Mavignier, Henk Peeters, Otto Piene, George Rickey, Jesús Rafael Soto, Luis Tomasello, and Günther Uecker These were progressive artists from Europe, Asia, and the Americas who participated in group exhibitions that promoted the synthesis of the arts and sciences with humanity, while remaining faithful to the concept of “finding beauty in everyday life.” The stylistic and conceptual vocabulary of Group Zero has remained an important influence in the development of many other movements, in particular, Minimalism and Conceptual Art.

In Gianni Colombo’s elegantly constructed Strutturazione Fluida (Fluid Structures), 1969 (from 1960 design) a motor pushes a continuous steel band inside a transparent box. The metal takes curvilinear forms as it is being pushed and pulled through the tight space. Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (Spatial Concept – Expectation) ca. 1968 is a pure white canvas perforated with clean cut slashes that create an impression of spatial depth. These marks, a signature gesture of Fontana’s, provoke expectancy in the viewer, a question of what is behind the canvas. Henk Peeters, a member of the Nul group in Holland, places a grid of white cotton balls behind silk in 20F, 1961-64. In work such as this one he was appealing to the sense of touch rather than sight, an expression of his resistance to the traditional rules of art. In Nail Structure, 1963 Günther Uecker uses common nails, paint and wood to shape light, creating rhythmic structures that break the pictorial surface with three-dimensional lines.

The Art of Zero: Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günther Uecker & Friends is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, SUNY and curated by Assistant Curator Avis Larson. Generous support for The Art of Zero is provided by the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art, and the Purchase College Foundation.

The Neuberger Museum of Art is an integral part of Purchase College, State University of New York. The Museum is supported in part by the State University of New York. Support for the Museum’s collection, exhibitions, publications, and education programs is provided by grants from public and private agencies, individual contributions, and the Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art’s members and Board.

The Museum is located at 735 Anderson Hill Road in Purchase, N.Y. (Westchester)

Museum Hours
Tuesday through Sunday, 12 noon to 5 pm
Closed Mondays and major holidays
Group tours by appointment only on Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 am to 12 noon
For persons with special needs, designated parking is available at the south end
of the Museum building. Call ahead for wheelchair accommodations.

Walk-in Public Tours
Tuesday–Friday, Gallery Talk, 1 pm
Sunday, Topic Tour, 2 pm
Sunday, Gallery Talk, 3 pm
Gallery talks offer fresh insights into the Museum’s special exhibitions and permanent collection, while Topic Tours explore different aspects of the permanent collection.

Museum Store
Open during Museum hours. The store features a broad selection of art books,
art cards, handcrafted jewelry, children’s items and one-of-a-kind limited edition gifts.

$5.00 General Public
$3.00 Seniors
Free admission for Museum members, children 12 and under, and Purchase College students, faculty, and staff

The Neuberger Museum of Art is easily accessible by car or bus, and may also be reached by Metro-North. By car: From the North or South – take the Hutchinson River Parkway to Exit 28. Head north on Lincoln Avenue to Anderson Hill Road. Turn right onto Anderson Hill Road. Left at first traffic light into Purchase College campus. From 684 – take Exit 2 South on Route 120 to Anderson Hill Road. Turn left onto Anderson Hill to 2nd traffic light. Turn left at Purchase College campus. From the East – take Route 287 (Cross Westchester Expressway) to Exit 8E. Take second left over Expressway onto Anderson Hill Road. Follow signs to SUNY Purchase.

Handicap Parking
On the Purchase College campus, park in Parking Lot #1 and proceed to the underpass at the Performing Arts Center. The handicap elevator is located across from the entrance to the Performing Arts Center. Take the elevator to the second level, then exit to the left. The entrance to the museum is located diagonally across, about a city block away.

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