Heinz Mack is born in Lollar, in Hessen, Germany. From 1950 to 1953 he studies arts and crafts instruction at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He then enrols at the University of Cologne as a student of philosophy, where he receives a degree in 1956. Until 1964 Mack works as an art instructor.
In the mid-1950s Mack meets George Mathieu, Jean Tinguely, and Yves Klein. Mack engages with Art Informel and develops monochrome black or white Dynamische Strukturen that he realizes in his paintings and, later, in plaster and metal reliefs. Together with Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, Mack founds an artists’ group with the programmatic name ZERO in 1957 and edits a journal with the same title. Light, movement, space, time, dynamics, vibration, and serial structures are supposed to express a distance to the »excess of psychological ballast« of the Art Informel and Tachism. The legendary »Evening Exhibitions« of the group intend to document the radically new beginning at »0« (Zero). The last exhibition of ZERO takes place in 1966.
At the end of the 1950s, Mack creates steles, cubes, sculptures with electric motors, and rotors made of aluminium foil and corrugated glass panes. Following his notion of an »immaterial appearance of objects,« caused by the refraction and reflection of light, he concentrates on phenomena of change. These phenomena not only immediately impact on the appearance of his objects, they constitute them. In 1959 Mack is part of the Documenta 2, and in 1964, together with Piene and Uecker, he participates in Documenta 3 (Lichtraum). In the 1960s he travels to North Africa. Mack now mostly concentrates on the creation of light-kinetic sculptures. With hisSahara Projekt (1968) – an artificial light garden in the desert, placed on steles of eleven meters – he evokes spatial as well as cosmic references. Since the late 1960s, Mack’s methods, which transcend genres and medium, have achieved high visibility in his fashioning of public spaces, in architecture, in interior spaces, and architectonic light arrangements on large buildings (Beisel-Haus, 1991). Aside from drafts of photo collages, his work also includes sculpting.
Mack expands the principle of his Dynamische Strukturen in the 1970s and fashions Lichtreliefs and Lichtflügel from prefabricated materials used in the construction of rockets. Through his objects that are at the same time cherubic and technoid, he deliberately confronts dream and reality. In 1975 Mack accepts a professorship at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Berlin, where he teaches until 1992.
In the 1980s Mack also works with traditional materials of scultpting and revises earlier drafts. Numerous stage settings and film documentations (TELE-MACK, 1968), and also texts emerge. His sculpting which now constitute a major focus of Mack’s work is characterized by traditional materials and techniques, the combination of various substances (wood, granite, glass), and shapes (square, circle, cross). Recently, aside from paintings, the designing and remaking of public squares and of churches (Jürgen-Ponto-Platz, Frankfurt; Platz der Deutschen Einheit, Düsseldorf), ceramic sculptures, mosaics, and monumental objects have further expanded his multi-media work.
Since the late 1950s, Mack’s works have been exhibited in numerous settings and locations, for example at the Galerie Schmela, or, in 1956, at the Howard Wise Gallery, New York. Within the context of museum exhibitions, his works have been shown in the Kestner-Gesellschaft Hannover in 1965, at the Venice Biennale, in 1970, at the Städtische Museum Abteiberg Mönchengladbach, in 2001, and, at the ZERO Exhibition in Düsseldorf, in 2006.
Heinz Mack lives and works in Mönchengladbach.
ZERO Internationale Künstler-Avantgarde der 50er/60er Jahre: Ausst.-Kat. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf 2006
Mack, Heinz: Ein Buch der Bilder zum West-Östlichen Divan von Johann-Wolfgang v. Goethe, Mönchengladbach 1999
Schmied, W. (Hg.): Utopie und Wirklichkeit im Werk von Heinz Mack, Köln 1998
Ruhrberg, Karl (Hg.): Sehverwandtschaften im Werk von Heinz Mack, Stuttgart 1989
Honisch, D.: Mack – Skulpturen 1953 — 1986. Werkverzeichnis, Düsseldorf, Wien 1986