Heinz Mack and Otto Piene’s series of Abendausstellungen (evening exhibitions) in their shared Düsseldorf studio led to the formation of the ZERO group in 1957; Günther Uecker joined the duo in 1961. The name was chosen based on the association of zero with silence and potentiality, not to convey irony or emptiness. Emerging in the wake of World War II (1939–45) and the collapse of Germany’s economy, the group worked cooperatively, often experimenting with cheap, easily sourced materials.
In the majority of his compositions, Mack aims to capture the movement of natural elements, and the ways in which they reflect and absorb light. Simona, a tall, slender construction of repetitive design alludes to the silhouette of the skyscraper—a symbol of mid-twentieth-century modernity. For the artist, however, the column also represents dignity and humanity standing upright in space. Mack has said, “The main thing is that all the artists that were or have been involved in the spirit of ZERO in general are working with structures . . . making concrete not realistic work: it’s just structures—and behind these structures is the idea of light, space, and movement.”
Label from Giant Steps: Artists and the 1960s, June 30–December 30, 2018