Günther Uecker working on Verletzte Felder (Wounded Fields) in his studio, Düsseldorf, August 2016 (Image: © Herbert Koller)
For the first time in more than 50 years, the Zero Group artist Günther Uecker is to have a solo show in London. The exhibition, which opens at Dominique Lévy gallery on 23 September (until 29 October), will include six new large-scale paintings studded with swirling fields of nails—a technique the German artist has employed since the 1950s.
In an act of violence that the artist says reflects current world events, Uecker attacked the front and back of the canvas-covered wooden panels with an axe. “A crevice, a gash in the painted field, struck from behind with an axe; a split in a developing structure, driven apart by nails; a battlefield,” he writes of the works.
The exhibition, titled Verletzte Felder (Wounded Fields) after the new series of paintings, will also feature Bäume aus einem Stamm (Trees from One Trunk), three pieces of tree trunk coated in ash and crowned with nails that appear to sprout from the wood like stunted branches. Uecker created the work between 2009 and 2015.
Market interest in the Zero Group has been piqued in recent years, mainly thanks to a major show at the Guggenheim in New York in October 2014. The exhibition—the first large-scale survey of the core group's work in the US, which also included an additional 37 artists who were part of the Zero “network”—was accompanied by several gallery shows in Manhattan including one at Moeller Fine Art and one at Sperone Westwater.
Prior to that, a 2010 sale at Sotheby’s in London of Zero works from the German collectors Gerhard and Anna Lenz saw 19 records for the group, sparking renewed interest in the movement, which was established in 1957 by the Düsseldorf Art Academy painters Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. Uecker joined shortly afterwards although he did not become an official member until 1961.