Click to skip to site content
Collection > Günther Uecker >

Grosse Wolke (Big Cloud)


  • Medium

    Paint and nails on canvas and particle board

  • Dimensions

    68 5/8 x 68 3/4 x 4in. (174.3 x 174.6 x 7.3 cm)

  • Credit

    The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    Gift of Lannan Foundation

  • Accession number


  • Object label

    ​Chiaroscuro, the Italian term for the contrast of light and shade, is a foundational technique of classical painting. Günther Uecker achieved chiaroscuro in his monochromatic Grosse Wolke (Big cloud) by hammering nails into a canvas-covered particle board surface. Uecker compared the protruding nails, which cast real shadows, to sundials that make time visible. The round nail heads echo the circular “cloud” composition into which they are set. Rather than create an image with a brush and paint, Uecker aggressively and repeatedly attacked the canvas with a hammer and nails. The chiaroscuro that results is not an illusionistic representation, but a literal effect of variable external lighting projected onto the three-dimensional surface.