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Spirit of Zero Group rekindled in Duesseldorf

Artists’ foundation takes over former factory that served as Otto Piene’s fire studio—and party centre

The Zero Foundation is taking over the former factory in Düsseldorf where artists including Heinz Mack, Gunther Uecker, Christo and Nam June Paik made works of art—and threw “many parties”, says Mattijs Visser, the foundation’s director. The building was “the zero centre” for all the artists related to the group’s co-founder Otto Piene, Visser says. It houses Piene’s former fire studio, which the foundation will preserve behind glass.

The walls of Piene’s studio—where he used to set his canvases aflame, burning the pigment to create “fire” and “smoke paintings”—have been blackened by smoke. The space remains filled with thousands of matches, spray-paint cans and grids.

The foundation, which has taken a 20-year lease on the building, with an option to buy thereafter, aims to reopen the building towards the end of 2017. It will include a library and a contemporary artist’s studio, and will also house the foundation’s collection. This mainly comprises large installations and artefacts, Visser says, as well as works made by Uecker for the German Pavilion in Venice in 1970 and several works by Mack.