In 1958 Heinz Mack and Otto Piene founded the ZERO movement which Günther Uecker joined in 1961. It is considered as the most important, and for the history of art meaningful Avant-garde since the Second World War.
ZERO, to be understood as ground zero, as a tabula rasa situation, from which new design principles and aesthetic ideas were to be developed, characterises the zeitgeist.
Monochromatic, brave creative experiments were dared in the atelier, accompanied by spectacular actions and environments which have become legendary.
This art movement drew together such artists as for example Yves Klein, Fontana, Manzoni, Castellani, Tinguely and Schoonhoven who had a distinct influence on ZERO; at the same time they received energy and ideas from ZERO.
Until the time of its dissolution in 1966, the ZERO Group had around 55 ZERO exhibitions among others in Düsseldorf, Antwerp, Brussels, Milan, London, Paris and Philadelphia; and around 130 artists from Europe and U.S.A. took part.
Manfred Schneckenburger writes in his article "ZERO oder der Aufbruch zur immateriellen Struktur" (Catalogue book Group ZERO from Hubertus Schoeller Gallery, Düsseldorf 1988):
"... If we don't categorize ZERO as a group nor as an alliance or a network but rather as a measurable climate the parameters light, structure, vibration, monochromatic are the determinants. Light as a method of design, just the same as brushstrokes and pigments, which adds rhythm to colour blobs and clumps, grooves and waves, nails and reflectors, cracks and diagonals. Structure as a conqueror of compositional hierarchies, as a possibility for interference and regularity beyond pure representation. Vibration as a result of a meeting between light and structure, as dynamisation of the picture and as movement which becomes whole in the eye of the beholder. Monochromatic as prerequisite for the purest, unclouded articulation of light, with a range from meditative sensation and vibration space up to radical colourless neutrality. If the painting is gone beyond, it lays a claim - at least in the opinion of the ZERO core - to the "Re-harmonisation of man, nature and technology" (Piene)...
... Mack finds, founds in 1958 his process of vibration. He himself tells of how he incidentally trod on a piece of silver foil onto which a pattern of the grooved factory floor was pressed - the key experience for his dynamos, rotors und reliefs? He becomes not only the follower of light under the ZERO artists but also the most consequent prophet of a vitally alive, non-mechanical repetition. Beyond the romantic light of his suns which go down beneath the waters stand the clear impression of a "new art" in which colour is exchanged for the "ideal monochrome silver" or white and composition is exchanged for "structure zones"..."
Dieter Honisch explains in his text for the book Mack-Skulpturen (Econ Verlag, Düsseldorf, Wien, New York 1986):
"...I believe that the actual impulse was given by Mack. At that time he had not only the clearest concept, he also precisely described in his ZERO texts his convictions which he later carried through and which gave this movement a new foundation. .....1958 was not only for Mack but also for ZERO a decisive year. The main thoughts came from Mack. From now on all his works are carried by one idea. The metaphorical and sketchiness of his early works have been overcome. Each new idea is not bound to one particular work, rather all his works are an expression of, or facets of a single comprehensive idea..."