‘Only ideas can change the world’: Heinz Mack

‘Only ideas can change the world’: Heinz Mack

The artist, who turns 86 in March, reflects on new work—but how little his ideals have changed—ahead of presentations in St Moritz and New York

“To try to get a long story as short as possible, light is really the main inspiration—and shadow, too,” Mack says. This was as true in 1957, when he founded Zero magazine with Otto Piene, as it is today. But Mack does not see his work as a simple manipulation of light and dark. The problem for the Zero group, he says, “was the intense crisis in our heads and our hearts. We were concerned with how to make a new beginning after we had made the irreversible decision to abandon the old position”—which included, among other things, Expressionism. “German artists were always Expressionistic,” Mack says. “We wanted to fight that.”

Does Mack ever tire of his association with Zero? The group, founded 60 years ago, largely disbanded ten years later, so Mack has spent most of his career outside its immediate orbit. “I cannot separate that part of my life out,” he says, noting that his ideals remain largely the same today. “I still believe in ideas. I believe only ideas can change the world—not arms, not political power.”

heinz mack 2017

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