Heinz Mack

Light Dynamo


Not on display

Heinz Mack born 1931
Aluminium, glass, wood and motor
Support: 578 × 571 × 220 mm
Purchased 1964

Display caption

Mack founded the Zero group with Otto Piene in 1957 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Zero felt their approach to art making, which used light and motion, opened up new forms of perception. In this relief, an aluminium disc decorated with a reed pattern rotates under glass that has been moulded with a similar pattern. The movement itself cannot be perceived, but the disc appears to dissolve into a rippling light. Through optical illusion, this seems to be continuously reforming itself as an oval while, at the same time, remaining a circle.

Gallery label, October 2016

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Catalogue entry

Heinz Mack born 1931

T00683 Light Dynamo 1963

Inscribed 'Mack '63 | Rotor II' on back
Aluminium, glass and wood with motor, 22 3/4 x 22 1/2 x 6 1/2 (57.5 x 57 x 16.5)
Purchased from the artist through the McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery (Knapping Fund) 1964
Exh: Zero in Gelsenkirchen, Künstlersiedlung Halfmannshof, Gelsenkirchen, November-December 1963 (no catalogue); Group Zero, McRoberts and Tunnard Gallery, London, June-July 1964 (2)
Repr: Michael Compton, Optical and Kinetic Art (London 1967), pl.22; Cyril Barrett, An Introduction to Optical Art (London 1971), p.84

The artist wrote on 5 July 1965: 'The "Light Dynamo" bought by the Tate Gallery was made in March 1963 ...

'The first "Light Dynamos" date from 1959.

'The principle of the "Light Dynamos" has not changed; but there are various Dynamos which differ in material (aluminium or coloured wood), speed, the structure of the reliefs and the structure of the glass, and finally in size.

'There is no direct relationship between the Tate Gallery's Rotor and the other Light Dynamos.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.459-60, reproduced p.459

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