Otto Piene

* 18 04 1928 | Laasphe
† 17 07 2014 | Berlin

Together with Heinz Mack, Otto Piene founded the internationally renowned artists' group ZERO in 1957, later to be joined by Guenther Uecker, which perceived itself as a response to the informal/gestural art (Art Informel) prevailing at the time. In contrast to Abstract Expressionism, ZERO is characterised by a reductive and controlled application of colour. From 1960 Otto Piene began an intensive exploration of the interplay of light, motion and space in which he transformed, blackened or even burned his canvases to fashion his so-called smoke and fire paintings, whose surfaces bore the destructive traces of the fire in the form of residues. Their beauty and expressive energy were reinforced by lyrical, associative titles.


Works by Otto Piene

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Otto Piene
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Vita Otto Piene

1928

Born in Laasphe/Westphalia, Germany

1949-1953

Studied painting and art at Munich and Düsseldorf Art Academies; Lecturer at the School of Fashion, Düsseldorf

1952-1957

Studies and graduates in philosophy at the Albertus-Magnus University in Cologne

1957

Co-founder of the group "ZERO" together with Heinz Mack; First grid-paintings inspired by Yves Klein

1958-1961

Edition of the magazine "ZERO", together with Heinz Mack

1959

"Lichtballette" (Light Ballets) and "Rauchbilder" (Smoke Paintings) exploring the elemental forces of nature

1960

Experiments with multimedia combinations

1963

Leading exponent of the so-called "Neuer Idealismus" movement, together with Guenther Uecker and Heinz Mack

1964

Visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania

1965

First solo exhibition in New York

1971

Commissioned to supervise the artistic design for the opening and the closing ceremonies of the XX Olympic Games in Munich

1972

Appointed Professor for Environmental Art at the University of Cambridge, Massachusetts

1974

Appointed Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge/Ma. and Professor of Visual Design for Environmental Art

1977

Participation at the "documenta 6" in Kassel

1989-1990

Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Minister for Science and Research of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

1994

Awarded honorary doctorate (Doctor of Fine Arts) by the University of Maryland BC

1996

Awarded Sculpture Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York

2014

Died in Berlin

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