Thomas Lenk (1933–2014) was one of the most important exponents of Concrete Art in Germany. He was represented at the Venice Biennale in 1970.
His early paintings and graphics place Lenk in the orbit of the Zero movement and are reminiscent of Heinz Mack’s works. After meeting equally famous concrete practitioner Georg Karl Pfahler, at the start of the 1960s Lenk found his way to his so-called layer plastics, sculptures made of steel plates laid on top of one another, often with an irresistible colorfulness. The neon colors that were so popular in his day are especially important to both the artist’s sculpture and graphic work.
Thomas Lenk transferred the design vocabulary of his layered plastics to the paper medium using screen printing, though he was able to try out even more stratifications. Sculpture and graphics were always very closely linked in Lenk’s work, and it was not uncommon for him to design plastics in stratifications that he had already tried out as screen prints. Lenk’s sculptures often came about as sculptures for buildings and public spaces in cities including Essen and Stuttgart. Just as his sculptures refer to their environment and are attuned to them by the artist, Lenk oriented his screen-printing editions in turn to the sheet format, where he constantly found new combinations of layers that appear to be elevated or to float on the paper format.
“Art as art has to merge with an artistic way of thinking: comprehensive and practiced on a daily basis.” – Thomas Lenk