Skip to navigation Skip to main content
Back to selected objects

Günther Uecker, "Untitled (Weißes Bild)", 1959

After Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the magazine “ZERO” in 1958, they also gave the name to the well-known international avant-garde art movement. Günther Uecker joined the group in 1961, and is often referred to in the same breath as an artist at the heart of the movement that largely shaped post-war art in Germany. However, before joining the group, he had already started his signature works, the well-known nail pictures, at the end of the 1950s. Throughout the 1950s, Uecker examined philosophies whose main tenets advocated simplicity and purity, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Islam. His fascination with purification rites, such as the Gregorian chant, led him to engage in his own rituals of repetition, and he began hammering nails for extended periods of time.

Uecker’s art tends towards sculpture simply because of the way it is made. Objects such as canvas, wood, tables, chairs and pianos studded with nails produce something organic, spore-like and animated in their rhythmic structuring. By being studded with nails, in principle an aggressively destructive act, the object is deprived of its utilitarian function to become a symbolically condensed object for representation. In Untitled (Weißes Bild), the energy and dynamic are discernible which distinguish Uecker’s work. The creative process is almost palpable.

Object information

Nails and oil on canvas on wood
53 x 50 cm
Sotheby's Cologne, 7 April 2022, lot 16; Manfred Wandel (1938-2021), Reutlingen (Stiftung für konkrete Kunst), 1984; Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf; Private collection, Germany, acquired directly from the artist.
Reutlingen, Stiftung für konkrete Kunst, 'En Gros & en détail, Werke von A-Z', December 2001 - July 2002, p. 31, ill.

Signed and dated 59 on the reverse

Contact us

Please contact us if you want more information about this object at

Object images