Herbert Zangs was a German artist, best known for his handmade monochromatic works which demonstrated his commitment to an improvised, informal artistic process. Born on March 27, 1924 in Krefeld, Germany, he went on to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf in the fall of 1945, just months after the end of World War II, and befriended fellow student Joseph Beuys. The tenuous climate in Germany in the first post-war months would greatly impact Zangs’ aesthetic: his Verweißungen series—collages and paintings entirely covered in ash white paint—resemble objects found in the rubble after the destruction of war. Notable examples from this series include Rechenstück (1978), a cardboard collage covered in tic-tac-toe shapes, and Knüpfung (1958), a repurposed pillow case knotted around rows of buttons. Zangs developed a reputation as an “enfant terrible” in the German art world much like his friend Beuys, and is considered a part of the Art Informel movement in his rejection of geometric abstraction for a more intuitive approach to art-making. He died on March 26, 2003 in Krefeld, Germany.(artnet.com)
After service in the armed forces and internment as a prisoner of war, Zangs began to study at the Düsseldorf Art Academy in 1945, where he was et al. taught by Otto Pankok. In 1949 he finished his training. While travelling both in Germany and abroad, he produced a great deal of purely figurative work, which was exhibited in 1950 at his first one-man show at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld. In 1951 he went to Paris for the first time, where he met Wols. That same year Zangs moved into a studio of his own in the Künstlerhaus in Sittarder Strasse in Düsseldorf, where he did his first abstract work. In the 1950s the artist earned his living primarily by accepting commissions for figurative work so that he was able to develop his own abstract style on the side. The first 'Ver-Weißungen' [Whitenings] of structures and things of daily use came into existence and first collages and objects were designed. In 1953 Zangs visited the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition 'Zwölf amerikanische Maler und Bildhauer' in Düsseldorf, of which he was specially fascinated by Jackson Pollock's works.
The disengagement of canvas from theeasel and the rhythmic gestures of paint application bore the painter out in his own frontier crossings and encourage him to further experiments. Zangs was awarded the Art Prize of the City of Krefeld in 1952, followed in 1958 by the Franklin Institute of America prize and, in 1962, the Europe Prize for Painting awarded by the Ostende Biennale. Restless by nature, Zangs then spent a few years in the South of France (1962-65), followed by numerous trips abroad, before finally settling in his native Krefeld in the early 1980s. Of Zangs's many friends among his contemporaries, Wols and Lothar Quinte have perhaps exerted the strongest influence on his work. Art historically, his uvre belongs to the realm of Informel and can be divided into several stylistic groups, such as the 'Ver-Weißungen' ('Whitening'), the 'Rechenzeichen-Collagen' ('Mathematical Signs Collages'), the 'Scheibenwischer-Bilder' ('Windscreen Wiper Pictures'), 'Pinselabwicklungen' ('Brush Processing') and 'Peitschenbilder' ('Whip Pictures'). As clearly distinguishable from one another as these groups are, they all bear the artist's unmistakable signature. A new reception of work followed on the 1993 exhibition 'Das offene Bild' ('The Open Picture') of his work in the Westfälisches Landesmuseum in Münster.(kettererkunst.com)