Organic structure, 1962

This work could be called “Painting with Nails”. The spiral structure consists of nails which the artist hammered into a slab of wood on which a primed canvas had been stretched. The angle of the nails and the interplay of light and shade create a unique dynamic. The artist executed his first such “nail paintings” in 1956/57; the twelve-part series entitled “Organic Structures” dates from 1962.

The nails – which remain visible as such – form a composition that has been as carefully planned as the dark painted background. Opening up the picture surface (in the manner achieved here with the nails), extending the picture into the third dimension, assigning the changing light a major role in the perception of the constantly recreated pictorial relief: those were the kinds of issues that interested the Düsseldorf artists’ group “ZERO”, founded in 1961 by Uecker and others. They considered physical and optical conditions – and thus perception itself – to be an essential aspect of their art.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Photo: Städel Museum – U. Edelmann – ARTOTHEK


Nails, canvas on wood
110 × 110.2 cm
Inv. No. SG 1241

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