On the foundation and establishment of the Zero movement in Germany using the example of the evening exhibitions, the gallery Schmela, the studio f, the gallery nota and the d(ato) gallery
Düsseldorf 1957: The artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene initiate public exhibitions of contemporary art in their private studios in order to declare a new start in art. Within a few years, the loose exhibition community in the ruinous backyard studio becomes the internationally networked avant-garde movement Zero, which included artists such as Günther Uecker, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Almir Mavignier, Uli Pohl and Piero Manzoni.
Starting from the public exhibitions of the Zero artists—the “Exposition Zero”—Thekla Zell examines the largely unnoticed role of German avant-garde gallerists in relation to the foundation and establishment of Zero in the late 1950s and early 1960s. At the center of the investigation are the evening exhibitions organized by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene (Düsseldorf), the Schmela gallery (Düsseldorf), the studio f (Ulm), the nota gallery (Munich) and the d(ato) gallery (Frankfurt a. M.). Far from the sober atmosphere of the white cube postulated by Brian O'Doherty of today's galleries, their gallery spaces formed—whether Schmela's one-room "Salönchen", Kurt Fried's private living room, the basement of the gallery nota or the two rooms of the d(ato) Gallery in a Frankfurt backyard house—popular meeting and important meeting points of a new avant-garde: Zero.