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.
'Bewegtes Feld' is work of nails in relief by the German artist Günther Uecker. The nails have been nailed into a sheet of wood and the entire work has been painted white. Because the distance between the nails varies and because they have been nailed into the sheet at different angles and in different directions, the result looks like an undulating movement and the way in which the light falls onto the nails plays an important role in this. When the viewer changes his position in relation to the work, this reinforces the effect of a moving picture.
Uecker started to make white painted reliefs of nails in 1957. He used this concrete material in order to allow the viewer to experience the immaterial phenomena of light and movement. The white and the light have a deeper meaning for Uekcer. They symbolize spiritual freedom, which Uecker deliberately pursued because of a sense of shame about Germany’s Nazi past. With regard to his objects Uecker said: “These objects can be seen as the tools for thought processes,” and looking at his work was meant to result in a broader understanding. The artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene had similar ideas. They founded the Zero group in 1957 and Uecker joined them in 1961.
The Zero artists used unconventional materials and techniques and had a preference for impersonal, non-artistic materials which have a practical function in everyday life, such as nails. Zero aimed to show the beauty of everyday reality. The Zero artists deliberately rejected the emotional and “artistic” aspects of Expressionist art which had dominated the western world since the Second World War. They wished to avoid every form of drama and personal preference. Their work was usually monochrome white or made of a shiny material such as aluminium. However, they were not concerned with the tangible object as such. It served only as a means to express intangible phenomena such as light and movement.
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