ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, currently at the Guggenheim Museum, showcases the Zero movement founded by German artists in Düsseldorf as a reaction to living in post-World War II Europe. Frustrated by the idea that everything had already seemingly been done they made innovation and experimentation their cause d’etre. Traditional materials and individual styles were out and novel materials- nails, fire, aluminum, mirrors and motors – were in.
What now seems fairly ordinary was deemed extraordinary during the 1960’s. This is especially apparent with the motorized pieces. Compared to today’s computer-generated work many of the pieces appear antiquated. Still there is something exciting about what this group was trying to do and say given the socio-political climate that prevailed at the time.
Start at the bottom of the ramp and work your way up, the pieces get bolder and wackier – there’s a room that looked like it was full of a disco lights and a machine that combed sand like a perpetually moving zen garden rake. On the day I was at the Guggenheim there were a number of school groups and I watched these kids react to the work. They loved that art can move, shimmy, sparkle and be tactile. So get yourself to the Guggenheim and enjoy seeing this exhibit as if you were a child.
Guggenheim Museum: 1071 Fifth Avenue, at 89th Street
Admission: $22/adults, but on Saturday between 5:45-7:45 you may pay what you wish.
Runs thru: January 7, 2015.