Zero Group artists Günther Uecker and Otto Piene star in Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary sale on Thursday 8 March at Bonhams New Bond Street.
Günther Uecker's Oval (estimated at £450,000-650,000) and Vogel (estimated at £400,000-600,000), completed in 1958 and 1962 respectively, represent a key period in the German artist's early career. These works reflect the dynamism of Uecker's practice in and around the time he was a member of the avant-garde Zero Group, alongside founders Heinz Mack and Otto Piene.
Otto Piene made Light Ballet (estimated at £160,000-220,000) in 1969 - shortly after Zero Group dissolved. The installation, a projection of light through metal, is typical of Piene's work. The artist's fondness for painting with light developed while he was working alongside Günther Uecker and Hanz Mack, the three artists making up Zero Group's core.
Otto Piene and Hanz Mack formed Zero Group fresh out of Düsseldorf art school in 1958. The friends presented their work as a 'new beginning' in the face of the dominant Abstract Expressionist and Art Informel movements. Discarding traditional media, they experimented with light and movement using mirrors, aluminum, light bulbs and nails. Nails were the particular domain of Günther Uecker who joined Piene and Mack in 1961. The three shared a studio at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and created joint works such as Salon de Lumière, installed at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris, 1962.
Beyond the three core artists, Zero Group was made up of an international network of like-minded artists including Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and Yayoi Kusama. The group published a journal, Zero, in which they mapped out their values - most importantly their dedication to change. As Piene later noted, 'Zero' referred to the count-down before a rocket takes off - zero being the moment of active change.
Ralph Taylor, Head of Bonhams Post-War & Contemporary Art said, "Gunther Uecker and Otto Piene were major players in one of the most important art movements of the late twentieth century. Zero Group was an avant-garde collective that fashioned a radical move toward simplicity in the face of the prevailing tendencies of Abstract Expressionism. Uecker's Oval and Vogel, and Piene's Light Ballet are typical of Zero Group's tendency toward simple colour, light and movement."