Günther Uecker



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Günther Uecker (* 13 March 1930 in Wendorf) is a German painter and object artist. He was a member of the artist group ZERO alongside artists such as Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. He is best known for his nail paintings in relief. Günther Uecker lives and works in Düsseldorf and St. Gallen.

Günther Uecker was born on 13 March 1930 in Wendorf near the town of Crivitz. He began studying painting in Wismar in 1949 and later transferred to the art academy in Berlin-Weißensee. After the uprising of 17 June 1953, he leaves the GDR and moved to West Berlin. In 1955, he began studying at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, which he completed in 1958. During these studies, the artist studied under Otto Pankok, producing his first nail paintings.

Günther Uecker and the artist group Zero

In 1961, Uecker joined the artist group ZERO (NULL) founded by Otto Piene and Heinz Mack. In the course of this, he devoted himself more and more to kinetic light art. In 1964, the artist won the Förderpreis of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and at the same time took part in documenta 3 in Kassel. In Paris, he won the prize at the “Young Biennale” in 1965.

Together with Gerhard Richter, the artist stages the demonstration “Museums can be inhabitable places” in 1968. For the performance of the “Terror Orchestra” in the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, the artists set up around 20 noisy machines, such as hoovers and laundry drums. Uecker also took part in documenta 4, which took place in 1968. Günther Uecker was represented in the German pavilion at the 1970 and 1972 Venice Biennales. His works were also exhibited at documenta 6 in 1977.

Teaching activities and honours of Günther Uecker

From 1974 to 1995, the artist taught as a professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. His work became increasingly politicized in the course of the 1980s. After the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1984, he created the so-called “ash pictures” as a reaction. His life’s work was honoured in 1983 with the award of the Kaiserring of the city of Goslar, and in 1985 with the award of the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st class. The Order “Pour le mérite” for Science and Arts accepts the artist in 2000. The Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star was awarded to him in 2001. The design of the devotional room in the new Reichstag building in Berlin from 1998 to 2000 represents a highlight of his career.

In 2008, Uecker co-founded the Zero foundation, which, in cooperation with the Stiftung museum kunstpalast, aims to further research, present and promote the Zero movement. The city of Düsseldorf honours Günther Uecker with a retrospective at the K20 in 2015.

Günther Uecker combines the overlaying of furniture, household objects, and musical instruments with different incidences of light to create kinetic images that reproduce complex plays of shadow and light. This dynamic gives the pictures an untransferable movement that unites light, space, time, and power. Uecker’s oeuvre encompasses painting, object art, installations, and stage designs across disciplines.

The artist lives and works in Düsseldorf and St. Gallen.


1949/1953 – Studied in Wismar and at the Berlin-Weißensee Art Academy.

1955/1958 – Studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy.

1955/1957 – First nail pictures.

1961 – Member of the artist group NULL.

1964 – Promotion Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Participation in documenta 3, Kassel.

1965 – Prize at the “Young Biennale”, Paris.

1968 – Demonstration at the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (together with Gerhard Richter). Participation in documenta 4, Kassel.

1970 – Participation at Venice Biennale.

1972 – Participation at Venice Biennale.

1977 – Participation in documenta 6, Kassel.

1983 – Award of the imperial ring of the city of Goslar.

1985 – Federal Cross of Merit, 1st class.

2000 – Member of the Order “Pour le mérite” for Science and Arts.

2001 – Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star.

2010 – Jan Wellem Ring of the City of Düsseldorf.




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