Guenther Uecker – Poesie der Destruktion

A co-founder of the ZERO group, an international avant-garde movement based in Germany in the 1950s, Guenther Uecker and his contemporaries disrupted traditional painting. The artists of this collective experimented with monochromatic color, light, materiality, and repetition. For Uecker, this experimentation manifested in his noteworthy nail-covered canvases. He used common materials to create powerfully charged compositions, transforming the canvas into a tactile three-dimensional object. The 1984 piece, Poesie der Destruktion – Poetry of Destruction – presents a tumultuous arrangement on a neat square background. The swarming bed of nails evokes a forceful action with violent connotations. Uecker adopts this apparent destruction into the creative process. Black and orange swaths of oil paint undulate on the rough surface beneath the exterior of hammered and bent metal. The composition suggests wreckage, yet it lives in the context of artistic beauty, urging the viewer to observe the coexistence of creative and destructive forces.