On June 3, 2014, The Sky Over Nine Columns will be unveiled on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The installation by the German artist Heinz Mack will remain in place from June 3 to November 23, 2014, in concomitance with the Venice Architecture Biennale. Staged in collaboration with the Giorgio Cini Foundation and curated by the art historian Robert Fleck, the installation in the church square on San Giorgio will consist of nine symmetric columns over seven metres high covered with a golden mosaic and bearing the sky. For Heinz Mack the columns decorated with over 800,000 tesserae are instruments for a play of light. By day and night they will reflect the light of the sun and the moon over Venice and be mirrored in the water. The artist sees the golden mosaic as a tribute to the city of Venice and its tradition in the transit between Orient and Occident.

“The column represents man standing upright – with dignity – in space,” explains the artist Heinz Mack. Forming a direct link between earth and sky, the column is the earliest and most fundamental element in the history of architecture. In early times when single stones or trees were planted on a particular hill in an open landscape, they often marked a meeting point. They were landmarks representing the whole surrounding area, thus concentrated in one spot. The golden mosaic covering the columns is made up of over 800,000 tesserae. An example of highly skilled local craftsmanship, the mosaic represents the historical cultural relations between Orient and Occident forged in Venice. The city’s most prominent splendid golden mosaic can be found just across the water, in the Basilica of San Marco. For Heinz Mack, gold is “the most abstract possibility of the sublime”.

Giorgio Cini Foundation Secretary General, Pasquale Gagliardi comments: “With this project the Island becomes an integral part of the work of art. This fits perfectly with our programme of initiatives, whose objective is to promote art forms closely associated with local traditions, including crafts in our region. Significantly, the glass tesserae covering the nine columns of the installation were produced in the Triveneto, according to a typical process aimed at attaining excellent standards. All the classic hallmarks of the Cini Foundation are found in this project: international vocation, original content, rigorous research, developing local culture and respecting tradition, striving for perfection, and high-quality results.” The artist continues, “my sculptures are objects of light in space. If the ideal space and the ideal light meet the interested viewer, a fascinating symbiosis may occur.” In search of optimal locations, Mack embarked on expeditions to the Tunisian desert and the Arctic in 1968, and so was able to install his objects in empty landscapes. These light installations were documented in the film Tele-Mack (1969).

Heinz Mack has worked as a painter and sculptor for over sixty years. In 1958, he co-founded the group ZERO together with Otto Piene, later to be joined by Günther Uecker. ZERO developed into an international movement with many fellow artists and close friends such as Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni. The artists developed new forms of creation, dealing with structure rather than composition, with light and movement. “The ZERO Group” – writes Robert Fleck, curator of The Sky Over Nine Columns – “achieved that turn towards reality, which epitomises avant-garde art of the 1960s. In many ways, ZERO is the European counterpart of Pop Art in the USA.” In 1970, together with three other German artists, Mack represented Germany at the 35th Venice Biennale. He has developed a genuine language of light and colour since the 1950s and is a leading exponent of kinetic art. The concept of “Light Stelae”, to which The Sky Over Nine Columns refers, was first formulated by Mack in the late 1950s in his Sahara Project. His works in public spaces – whether in urban settings or nature – are always conceived as objects for light: “Light is decisive for my art. As far as light is concerned, I want to go to the limits of the possible.”

The installation of The Sky Over Nine Columns will be realised by Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf and Sigifredo di Canossa, in cooperation with the Giorgio Cini Foundation and the support of Trend, Vicenza.

Island of San Giorgio Maggiore

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