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Günther Uecker was born on March 13, 1930, in Wendorf, Mecklenburg, Germany. A sculptor, set designer, and Kinetic artist, he studied art at Wismar and at the Berlin-Weissensse Academy from 1949 to 1953. His first work was in the style of Social realism. He attended the Düsseldorf Academy Until 1957, during which he started painting using relief elements. In 1957 he simplified his palette to black, red, or white, and his work comprised patterns of dots or horizontal and vertical lines scattered across the surface of his paintings.
In 1957 Uecker also produced his first nail reliefs. This was the first stage of his experimentation with relief, which would later lead him to apply other objects on the surface of his canvases, such as corks or cardboard tubes. The nail-covered surface became the antithesis of a painted surface, which allowed the artist to explore the arrangement of light through the shadows created by the nails. Uecker, who had been arranging nails on the surface of his canvasses according to mathematical sequences, introduced organic patterns and structures to his work from 1960 onward, when he also created his first disc-shaped, rotating sculptures and light boxes. Uecker was a friend of Yves Klein, Heinz Mack, and Otto Piene, with whom he founded Gruppo Zero in 1961. They were interested in the visual/kinetic aspects within the emerging Kinetic Art movement, of which Gruppo Zero was the German counterpart. As Kinetic Art was concerned with movement and dynamism, science and technology were primary concerns and linked the group to the Dadaists and Futurists.
The Gruppo Zero soon became a reference point and inspiration for many European trends during that period, like the Gruppo T and the Gruppo N in Italy, and various Optical Art experiments throughout Europe. Uecker’s body of work includes oscillating sculptures and nail-covered chairs, tables, and pianos. From 1966 onward, the artist began to incorporate high-frequency electrical power into his work and began to make large outdoor projects in 1969. His work also includes monochrome relief prints, films, and sets and costumes for the operas Fidelio (1974) and Parsifal (1976). The artist currently lives and works in Düsseldorf.