Hermann Goepfert (1926 - 1982)

Hermann Goepfert, who worked mainly in Frankfurt am Main, is considered one of the most important representative artists of the ZERO movement. Having completed his studies at the Städelschule he turned to non-objective painting. His monochrome „white pictures“, painted as from 1960, attracted great interest. International artists came to the city on the river Main in the 1960ies, in order to exchange ideas with Goepfert or to work with him. Amongst his artist friends were Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Jef Verheyen.

From the beginning of the 1960ies he took part in important presentations linked to the ZERO group, such as in the exhibition „NUL“ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam or the documenta III in Kassel. Both in Kassel and at the subsequent international ZERO exhibitions he presented „aluminium reflectors “. Goepfert was mainly occupied with natural light as visual material and experimented with metals, which due to their smooth surface reflect light better than canvas. With the aim to increase the integration of space, he successively replaced canvas by metal.

In 1965, Goepfert formed a “ planning partnership for new forms of environment” ( Planungsgemeinschaft für neue Formen der Umwelt) with architect Johannes Peter Hölzinger in order to put his creative ideas into architectural practice. An early example of such an the integration of art and architecture within the ZERO movement are the objects and object architectures erected by the partnership in 1965-1967 in the Schlosspark in Karlsruhe for the National Horticultural Show (Bundesgartenschau).

In 1967 the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brüssel dedicated an solo exhibition to him where he showed static and kinetic works created after the „White pictures“. The focus of that exhibition was again on the artistic handling of light. 

Ever since his early death – Goepfert died suddenly in Antwerp in 1982 – his works have been shown in the ZERO context. In 1987 a retrospective entitled „Goepfert and ZERO – ZERO and Goepfert“ took place at the Frankfurter Kunstverein. Some of his works were shown in 2014 at the big ZERO exhibition held by the Guggenheim Museum New York in cooperation with the ZERO Foundation, Düsseldorf and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

A comprehensive monography was published by Hatje Cantz in 2015.  

1926 Born in Bad Nauheim


1947 - 1958 Studies at Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main


from 1960 Creative period of "White pictures"


from 1962 Development of "aluminium reflectors" 

from 1965 Joint works with Lucio Fontana and Jef Verheyen


1965 Founding of "Planning group for new forms of environment " with the architect Johannes Peter Hölzinger


1971 Move to Antwerp


1982 Died in Antwerp

1962 Participation in the exhibition "NUL" at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam


1964 Participation in the documenta III, Kassel


1967 Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels


1979 Participation in the exhibition "ZERO, Bildvorstellungen einer europäischen Avantgarde 1958-1964" at the Kunsthaus Zurich


1987 Retrospective "Goepfert and ZERO - ZERO and Goepfert" at the Kunstverein Frankfurt am Main


2005 L’Œil moteur- Art optique et cinétique, 1950-1975 - Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCS), Strasbourg


2008 ZERO lebt – europäische Avantgarde der 50er und 60er Jahre - Kunsthalle Weishaupt


2011 "Hermann Goepfert. Licht als Vision - Bilder und Werke aus den 1950er bis 1970er Jahren", Galerie Dierking, Cologne


2015 Group show “ZERO – The International Art Movement oft he 50ies and 60ies“, Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin


          Group show “ZERO – Let Us Explore the Stars“, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam


          ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s, Guggenheim Museum, New York


2016 Art after 1945 - 1968, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe


2017 Le socle du monde Biennale, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark