Günther Uecker

Twenty Chapters

11 March to 6 June 2005

Poster of the exhibition “Günther Uecker – Twenty Chapters”

Poster of the exhibition “Günther Uecker – Twenty Chapters”

Design: Steenbrink Vormgeving, Berlin

Günther Uecker is one of the important German artists of the second half of the 20th century who continues to work with unflagging intensity and he is one of the few who have enjoyed uninterrupted international recognition. The fact that his works are collected and exhibited by both Western and Eastern museums can not only be seen as a mark of quality; it also has to do with his vita and the universal validity of his art which has grown out of his humanistic sense of values.

Born in 1930 in Mecklenburg, the artist came from the GDR to the Federal Republic in 1955 at an early age and studied at the Düsseldorf art academy, where he later worked as a professor until retiring in 1995. By the late 1950s Uecker was at the forefront of international artistic innovation as, among other things, a member of the legendary avant-garde group ZERO. With a radical transformation from painted panels to nail objects he managed to find a tool suited to his artistic intentions (as well as a trademark that has never left him), with which he commenced his ever increasing preoccupation with natural means in producing his art. Uecker has participated in major exhibitions since the middle of the 1960s, such as the Biennale in Venice and the documenta, and has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Imperial Ring of the City of Goslar. He has recently been named a member of the Pour le Mérite Order in Berlin.

The theme of his works in the 1980s and 1990s was always the “vulnerability of people at the hands of people”, as he himself put it. His awareness of the dangers to which nature and people are exposed has led him to produce very disturbing sculptures and installations that touch on existential aspects of our lives.

Berlin, a city searching for a new role in promoting understanding between East and West, is an ideal venue for this long overdue retrospective of Uecker’s work and tribute to the life’s work of one of the really great “all-German” artists on the occasion of his 75th birthday.

The exhibition consists of 20 chapters. 19 of them will be displayed in the Martin-Gropius-Bau in 18 rooms of the ground floor (and the atrium). Divided into thematic groups, they comprise outstanding examples from five decades of his work that trace Uecker’s artistic development. Chapter 20 will be on display from 20 April 2005 in the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The tour will present the following series of works, among others: early drawings, light media, permutations, nailed objects, structure fields and progressions, kinetics, “blackspace-whitespace”, sand spirals, “On the Silence of Writing”, “Black Mesa”, ash pictures and tree objects, violations and connections, cloth objects, “Letter to Peking”, nailed painting, dialogue of cultures and new current works.

The exhibition consists of loans of the highest quality from public and private collections as well as of objects from the artist’s own collection, some of which have never been exhibited.


Günther Uecker – Twenty Chapters
Günther Uecker – Watercolours
Ed.: Alexander Tolnay, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein
Texts: Alexander Dückers, Alexander Tolnay
96 pages, approx. 50 colour illustrations
Hatje Cantz Verlag, € 19

Organizer: Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in cooperation with the Neue Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Made possible by the Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin
Principal sponsor: Deutsche Bank AG
Curator: Alexander Tolnay, Berlin