Heinz Mack (b.1931 in Germany) founded the Zero (or ZERO) movement with Otto Piene in 1957. Situating themselves within their specific historical moment, they sought to envisage a new mode of postwar artistic practice, a conceptual ‘ground zero’. Often understood as a direct reaction to the subjectivity and commercial successes of Abstract Expressionism, they eschewed colour, emotion and expression, and sought to operate outside of the established gallery network.
Otto Piene (German, 1928–2014) was a painter, printmaker, environmental artist, and co-founder of the ZERO group. Born in Laasphe in Westphalia, Piene attended the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Munich and the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf as an art student, and then studied philosophy at Cologne University. After graduating in 1957, he and Heinz Mackfounded the ZERO group, which, in contrast to Abstract Expressionism, emphasized art void of color, emotion, and individual expression.
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