Heinz Mack was born on March 8, 1931, in Lollar, Germany. In 1949 he moved to Düsseldorf, where he studied painting at the Kunstakademie from 1950 to 1953. He received a degree in philosophy from the University of Cologne in 1956, the year he began to explore problems of movement and of light. From 1956 to 1958 Mack developed his light reliefs and light dynamos, works made of polished metal which vibrate and reflect the colors of the surroundings. The Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf mounted his first one-man exhibition in 1957. In 1957-58, together with Otto Piene, Mack established the Group Zero, which included Günter Uecker,Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely and others.

Mack renounced color in his painting in 1958, and thereafter produced black or white canvases. In 1958 he also began to formulate his Sahara Project, an environmental work involving proposals for constructions in the desert and the Arctic; this project has continued to preoccupy him. Mack’s first one- man show in Paris took place in 1959 at the Galerie Iris Clert. Since 1960 he has executed numerous architectural-scale works; among these are two water walls for a hospital in Diourbel, Senegal, a light carrousel for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and a piece for Expo 70, Osaka. He made the film OxO=Kunst in 1962. Mack lived in New York during 1965–66 and his first solo exhibition in United States was held at the Howard Wise Gallery, New York, in 1966. The following year saw the pubblication of the artist’s journal-catalogue Mackazin.

Major international shows in which Mack has partecipated include Documenta III, Kassel, 1964, and the Venice Biennale, 1970. In 1976, with the photographer Thomas Hopker, Mack built sculpture gardens in the Sahara and in Greenland: photographs taken of these ephemeral works before the elements destroyed them were published in Sculpture Safari in 1977. At the beginning of the 1980s he received several public commissions such as the Columne pro caelo, erected in Roncalli Square, Cologne, in 1985, and the design for the German Unification Square in Düsseldorf in 1989. After a lapse of 27 years, Mack started painting again in the nineties, making large paintings that he named Chromatic Constellations. He created drawings to accompany Goethe's poems book (1999), and in 2003 finished the drawings to accompany texts from Al-Ghasali, a Persian philosopher of the twelfth century.