For much of his career, ZERO artist Adolf Luther endeavoured to depict light free of material constraints. In his attempt to make the invisible visible and to understand a reality, which eludes the reproductive depiction, Luther was one of the principal agents of kinetic and optical art in Northern Europe. In 1938 Luther began his studies of law in Cologne, which he completed with a graduation at the university of Bonn in 1943. He was forced to interrupt his studies several times due to his enlistment for military service. Since 1942 Luther attended during his spare time to painting and to first observations of light as its own reality. After World War II, he became
articled clerk at the Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf, but also participated in exhibitions in Krefeld, Dusseldorf and Hamburg. During the following ten years between 1947 and 1957 Luther experimented with various painting styles, he moved from foreshortening to coloured area-painting to gain experiences for an artistic start-over. In 1957 Luther, who was promoted to judge in the meantime, resigned from law business to concentrate totally on his art. At that time Luther discovered light as a direct factor of composition in the smoothened surfaces of his Dynamische Formen.
Between 1959 and 1961 he further developed the Licht und Materie-works (Light and Matter) and tested new materials. By using glass and mirrors Luther found a medium suitable for his continuing experimentation with investigating light distortion. In 1960 he was able to show his works at his frst one-man shows at the Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in Krefeld and at the Drian-Gallery in London. Luther furthermore participated in Zero-exhibitions in Berlin, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen and Philadelphia.
Through careful warping and construction, he eliminated space, perspective and subject matter, leaving only a visual sensation of the movement of light. His “sculptures” defy the interpretation of its surrounding elements, warping reality in unique ways. These visual experiences possess small clues that shift and warp as the viewer’s position changes relative to the hanging work. Luther’s deviated spaces abolish any clear sense of the viewer’s refected physical presence in his sculptures, masking the physical distance between his work and the viewer. A signifcant secondary component in this collection of Luther’s work is his distortion of the selfimage:
facial features are often identifable, but redistributed across planes of refective surfaces to the point that refections are barely recognizable. These discomforting, corrupted presentations of the viewer’s refection magnify the role of light filtration in the perception of Luther’s sculptures. Integration of light and space functions as both a comprehensive survey of Luther’s work and an insight to the artist’s understanding of light’s signifcance and potential.