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90th birthday of Otto Piene


On April 18, 2018, Otto Piene would have turned 90.

Born in 1928 in Laasphe and died in 2014 in Berlin, Piene studied painting at the academies in Munich and Dusseldorf. From 1968 to 1971, he was the first visiting professor of the newly founded Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). In 1972, he became professor of Environmental Art at the MIT and was director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies from 1974 to 1994. In 1967 and 1971, Otto Piene represented Germany at the Venice Biennale, in 1959, 1964 and 1977, he took part in Documenta in Kassel. Otto Piene’s works can be found in numerous important collections and museums, such as in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

Galerie Thomas / Galerie Thomas Modern presented Piene's work in two solo presentations in 2012 and 2016.

In 1957, Otto Piene founded the artist group ZERO together with Heinz Mack. It was to be a countermovement to gestural art and the Informel, which was predominant at the time. ZERO replaced Abstract Expressionism with an artistic language that was reduced and controlled. In a consequent concern with light, movement and space, Piene from 1959 onwards created ballets of light and used smoke and fire in his works, which refer to the elementary energies of nature.  He continued creating his smoke and fire pictures throughout his life, the traces of fire and smoke are crucial elements of his works.

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