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First New York exhibition of new work by GŁnther Uecker since 1966 opens at Haunch of Venison
GŁnther Uecker, Doppelspirale (Double Spiral), 2012. Nails, white paint with glue on canvas on wood, 78 3/4 x 59 1/8 in. (200 x 150 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Haunch of Venison.

NEW YORK, NY.- Haunch of Venison presents a seminal exhibition by GŁnther Uecker, the first New York exhibition of new work by the artist since 1966. One of Germany’s most influential living artists, Uecker has created over fifteen new works for this show, which will include iconic nail works alongside works that continue the artist’s aim to confront global political, cultural, and religious tensions worldwide. The exhibition immediately follows a survey show of the artist’s work at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran.

Uecker’s new work continues his lifelong exploration of violence, redemption and religion – most clearly expressed in his formal, abstract use of nails as a medium, for which the artist is renowned. After exhibiting extensively in Europe and the United States in the 1950’s and 60’s, Uecker began to exhibit in non-traditional regions such as Mongolia, Egypt and Iran in order to continue his interest in developing a dialogue between different religions and cultures. “That makes an exhibition of new work in New York particularly special and exciting,” explained Haunch of Venison’s International Director Emilio Steinberger, “Uecker asks questions in a consistently strong and confrontational way but always manages to keep a sense of vulnerability, sensitivity and beauty present. This is what makes Uecker a master of his generation and one of the most significant artists working today.”

In his works on canvas on wooden board Uecker uses hundreds of nails driven methodically into wood to produce rhythmic structures and forms. The beauty of the compositions stands in stark contrast to the aggressive physical act of producing them, a reference to pain, crucifixion and man’s violence upon his fellow man. The German artist spent his formative years amid the horrors of World War II, making the allusions to pain and penance especially poignant.

For these new paintings Uecker borrowed confrontational words from the Old Testament and etched them into the paint before driving nails through them. He will also present a mural of works on paper emblazoned with the same aggressive language translated into Farsi and a nail piece of a deconstructed Star of David. Exploring similar themes that led him to create a nondenominational prayer room for the Reichstag building in Berlin, Uecker hopes to create a space for dialogue between three major religions of the world. “Art cannot salvage humanity, but with the means of art a dialogue can be enabled, calling out for the preservation of humanity,” he explains.

Uecker was a founding member of the ZERO Group with Heinz Mack and Otto Piene, whose principles centered on rebelling against the traditional methods of creation and more generally of the establishment in Germany after World War II. Like a spaceship taking off at the number zero, their bold opposition led them to employ radical materials; this is where Uecker uses the nail. Uecker began working with nails in 1956, hammering them into household objects, furniture and panels, rendering them as fetishlike and animated. He is also celebrated for his use of found, raw materials such as sand, ash, stones and string, suggesting the transitory state of nature and the physicality of these objects beyond their perceived function. His range of practice also includes performances, films and stage designs.

GŁnther Uecker (b. 1930) was born in Mechlenburg, Germany in 1930. His works are included in prestigious permanent collections around the world including the Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. He has exhibited at the foremost institutions in the world, most recently in critically acclaimed The Ghosts in the Machine exhibition at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum.

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