New York

“Zero in New York”

Sperone Westwater

A reductivist abstraction embodying moral purification marked the beliefs of Group Zero (1957–1966) or, as it is often called, plainly, Zero. Whether with its white monochromes or its light works made with simple technology, the group would purge contemporary art of its debilitating expressionist incursions and, arguably, of the whiff of Fascist criminality still attached to Italian and German art a decade after World War II. As Heinz Mack and Otto Piene wrote in 1957: “The main tendency was the purification of color as opposed to the informel and neo-expressionism; the peaceful conquest of the soul by means of calm, serene sensibilization.” The group’s values ring of the utopianism of Yves Klein (who often showed with them), though most of their actual works seem more aligned with László Moholy-Nagy’s book Vision in Motion (1947).

While marking a new, Italian-German entente, Zero represented

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