Otto Piene (1928-2014) was born in Laasphe, Westphalia, Germany and lived and worked in Düsseldorf, Cambridge and Groton, Massachusetts. Piene was one of the founding members of the ZERO group (1957-1966) along with Heinz Mack, and later Günther Uecker. From 1948 to 1953, he attended the Blocherer Art School and studied painting at the Academy of Art in Munich and the StaatlicheK unstakademie in Düsseldorf. Piene graduated with a philosophy degree from the University of Cologne in 1957. After serving as a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, Piene became the first Fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) from 1968 to 1971, during which he coined the term “Sky Art” for large outdoor sky/light projects, such as Olympic Rainbow for the 1972 Munich Olympics. In the same year, Piene became Professor of Environmental Art at MIT, and from 1974 to 1994, he was director of the CAVS. Solo exhibitions include retrospectives at the Kunstmuseum im Ehrenhof, Düsseldorf (1996); the Prague City Gallery (2002), and the
Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund (2008-2009). The artist had a show of Light Ballet and Fire Paintings at Sperone Westwater in 2010, followed by a retrospective of painting, sculpture and installation in 2016. Recent museum solo shows include the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (2011), ZKM 1 Museum Für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe (2013), Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (graphic work) (2013), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2014), Langen Foundation, Neuss (2014), LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Münster (2015) and Fitchburg Art Museum (2019). In 2014, the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened a large-scale historical survey of the work of the ZERO group, showcasing a diverse selection of Piene’s work. In 2015, a touring exhibition of ZERO artworks was presented at the Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin and traveled to the Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam. Another major exhibition of the ZERO group was held at the S.U. Sakıp Sabancı Museum (2015-2016). Piene’s work is in many important public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, the Neue Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.