Sculptor, op artist, and installation artist Günther Uecker (German, b. March 13, 1930) was born in Wendorf, Pomerania. He studied painting at Fachhochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Wismar, from 1949 to 1953, Kunstakademie in Berlin-Weißensee, and Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, from 1955 to 1957.

Uecker is known above all for his relief nail art works, which he developed for the first time in 1957. One of his famous art works is White Field (1964) from the Fields in Movement series, made from painted nails and painted canvas. The nails are positioned in such a way that the surface of the artwork seems to be moving. Due to its three-dimensional aspect, light and shadow vary depending on the location of the observer. In 1961, Uecker became a member of the group of artists called ZERO, founded by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. Inspired by the Kinetic Art movement, these artist are interested in using light, technology, and optical illusions. Uecker also produces sculptures of pianos and chairs with nails sticking out of them, and he creates sets and costumes for opera performances.

His works are part of public collections in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Uecker lives and works in Düsseldorf and St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Timeline

1930
Born: in Wendorf, Germany
1949–1953
Studied art at Wismar and at the Berlin-Weißensee Academy, Germany
1953–1957
Studied at the Kunstakademien in Düssledorf, Germany
1961
Co-founded the Gruppo Zero together with Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, and Otto Piene
2000
Designed the prayer room for the Berlin Reichstag building, Germany
Teaches, lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany

Exhibitions

2012–2013
Sandspirale in Ends of the Earth - Land Art bis 1974, Haus der Kunst, München, Germany
2012–2013
Günther Uecker und Enrico Castellani, Ca’ Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Venice, Italy
2012
Honarhaye Moaser Tehran / Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art, Teheran, Iran
2010
Günther Uecker, Handlungen Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany (solo)
2009
Günther Uecker - Das Buch Hiob, Kunst-Raum des Deutschen Bundestags, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2009
Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Broad Contemporary Art Museum, organized by Stephanie Barron, January 25, 2009–April 19, 2009
2009
Target Practice: Painting Under Attack 1949-78, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA
2008
Gunther Uecker: Post for Ordos, Ordos Art Museum, China (solo)
2008
Günther Uecker - works on paper, Kunsthalle Jesuitenkirche, Aschaffenburg, Germany (solo)
Tàpies, Hartung, Uecker, Förg, Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Günther Uecker: Nagelobjekt, Prägedrucke, Galerie Roland Aphold, Basel, Switzerland (solo)
2007–2008
Homenaje a Picasso, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile, Chile
2007
30 Jahre walter storms galerie, Walter Storms Galerie, Munich, Germany
Ewerdt Hilgemann / Günther Uecker, Galerie Roland Aphold, Basel, Switzerland
2007
Der Geschundene Mensch (The Human Abused), National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, India (solo)
2007
Brief an Peking, National Museum of China in Beijing, China (solo)
2006–2007
ZERO Musée d´Art Moderne, Saint-Etienne, France
Shelter - Kunst für zwangsprostituierte Frauen, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany
2006
Günther Uecker, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, India; National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai, India (solo)
Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria
Galerie Haas, Zürich, Switzerland
Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany
2005
EXIT_AUSSTIEG AUS DEM BILD, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
FARBE FLÄCHE FORM, Galerie Neher, Essen, Germany
Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin, Germany
2005
Old Worlds, New Expressions, German Artist Günther Uecker, Deustchen Kulturzentrum National Museum of History, Taipei, Taiwan Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Taiwan (solo)
2004
Monocromos de Malevich al Presente, Museo Nacional Centro de Art Reina Sofia, Madrid (solo)
2004
Beuys / Chillida / Uecker, Galerie Löhrl, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Zwischenspiel mit goldenen Affen, Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen, Germany
Galerie Neher, Essen, Germany
SOMMERLUST - KUNST-STÜCKE , Galerie Rothe, Frankfurt, Germany
2003–2004
Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany
Alles auf eine Karte... , Walter Storms Galerie, Munich, Germany
2003
M_ARS - Kunst und Krieg, Neue Galerie, Graz, Austria
Konkrete Kunst - Die Sammlung Holze, Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany
2002
Iconoclash, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
2001–2002
Outside the network ?, Edith Wahlandt Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany
2000
Das fünfte Element - Geld oder Kunst, Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany
Kunst aus den achtziger Jahren, Galerie Andreas Baumgartl, Munich, Germany
2000
Der Geschundene Mensch, Mazedonisches Museum für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Thessaloniki, Greece (solo)
1997–1998
Deutschlandbilder, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany
1996
Günther Uecker Der geschundene Mensch, Museu de Arte Moderna, Goethe-Institut und Instituto Cultural Brasil-Alemanha, Rio de Janeiro Museu de Arte Moderna, Sao Paulo (solo)
1991
Zone D – Innenraum, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, Germany
1986–1987
Von zwei Quadraten, Wilhelm Hack-Museum, Ludwigshafen, Germany
1982
25 Jahre, Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf, Germany
1979
3rd Biennale of Sydney
1977
Documenta 6, Kassel, Germany
1972
Amsterdam Paris Düsseldorf, Guggenheim Museum, New York
1972
35th Venice Biennale
1972
Uecker Kreis Kreise, Galerie Schmela, Düsseldorf (solo)
1970
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brüssel (solo)
1969
Between 2, Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, Germany
1968
Documenta 4, Kassel, Germany
1968
Collaborates with Gerhard Richter in Leben im Museum-Museum Können Bewohnbare Orte Sein
1966
McRoberts & Tunnard Gallery, London
1965
The Responsive Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
1964–1965
ZERO Presentation: Lichtraum, Dokumenta III, Kassel.
1964
Uecker Benagelte Objekte im Pianohaus Kohl, Pianohaus Kohl, Gelsenkirchen (solo)
1964
Documenta 3, Kassel, Germany
1962
NUL, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1962
Salon de Lumière, in collaboration with Mack and Piene, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene et Günther Uecker-Dynamo, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels
1958
Das Rote Bild (The Red Painting), Heinz Mack and Otto Piene Studio, Düsseldorf

Public Collections

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany
ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
Ulmer Museum, ULM, Germany
Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany
Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN , USA
Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, USA