Magazine article Artforum International

"Zero in New York": Sperone Westwater

Magazine article Artforum International

"Zero in New York": Sperone Westwater

Article excerpt

A reductivist abstraction embodying moral purification marked the beliefs of Group Zero (1957-1966) or, as it is often called, plainly, Zero. Whether with its white monochromes or its light works made with simple technology, the group would purge contemporary art of its debilitating expressionist incursions and, arguably, of the whiff of Fascist criminality still attached to Italian and German art a decade after World War II. As Heinz Mack and Otto Piene wrote in 1957: "The main tendency was the purification of color as opposed to the informel and neo-expressionism; the peaceful conquest of the soul by means of calm, serene sensibilization." The group's values ring of the utopianism of Yves Klein (who often showed with them), though most of their actual works seem more aligned with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy's book Vision in Motion (1947).

While marking a new, Italian-German entente, Zero represented more than the idees fixes of yet another clique of perfectionist cranks and quickly became a proto-European Union, attracting many well- known French, Swiss (notably Jean Tinguely), Belgian, and Dutch artists, not to say Latin American and even Japanese artists (e.g., the Gutai group). Insofar as concerns Italy, works ranging from Enrico Castellani's elegant white reliefs to Piero Manzoni's more ambiguous Achromes are characteristic efforts, though the parti-colored staccato grids of Piero Dorazio were also welcomed.

To be sure, Manzoni's neo-Dada propensities were inimical to the Group's purism as enunciated in the Zero manifesto of 1963: "Zero is the stillness. Zero is the Beginning. Zero is Round. Zero is Zero." Manzoni's more notorious works--his tins of shit, for example--were only momentary embarrassments, today forgiven owing to his immense posthumous fame.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In Dusseldorf, Zero's originators were Mack and Piene, artists still difficult to categorize, since they made both sculptural and luminous pictorial ensembles and strove to unite the shimmering and the architectural in grand projects, many unrealized. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.