The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Silberrotor' by the German artist Heinz Mack consists of a shallow wooden tray covered in thin aluminium. In the tray there is a disc which is rotated slowly with an electric motor. The disc is covered with pieces of aluminium of the same sort as the tray. They have been applied in different directions. The tray is covered with a glass plate which has alternating matt and clear narrow vertical bands. When the disc is moving its appearance constantly changes because the light falling on it is reflected in a different way all the time and the stripy glass reinforces the kaleidoscopic effect of the rotating aluminium structure.
The material used to make 'Silberrotor' and the effect of the object reveal an interest in industrial materials and technology, an interest Mack shares with fellow artists Piene and Uecker. Together they formed a group called Zero which was founded in the late 1950s on the basis of a shared aversion to the Expressionist art forms dominating the art world at that time. The Zero artists rejected strong emotion and a personal signature. They looked for links with everyday life by using their impersonal “non-artistic” materials as a starting point for their work. Initially they produced monochrome white paintings in which there was no composition at all, only structure: no subjective arrangement of unequal parts, but an objective arrangement of equal elements.
The Zero artists often suggested movement in their white structural paintings. The way in which light falls played an important role. Later they started to use actual movement in their work, like Mack in his 'Silberrotor'. They were fascinated by immaterial phenomena such as light and movement and considered these to be more important than the tangible object. They to bring together art, technology and natural phenomena with the objective of achieving a sense of timelessness and infinity.