On the occasion of Otto Piene’s upcoming 85th birthday, the ZKM l Museum of Contemporary Art presents the exhibition “Energy fields”, which, with a selection of approximately fifty works, provides insight into his work. Born in 1928, Otto Piene is considered one of the most important pioneers of a kinetic, technology-based, multi-media art.
For Piene art is not so much a conceptual phenomenon, than an energetic one. Recourse to natural scientific knowledge, as well as to the strong connection between art, technology and nature constitute the bedrock of all his works. Piene, furthermore, is among the founders of Environmental Art. Starting out from his smoke and fire paintings dating from the 1960s, the show at the ZKM exhibits “Inflatables” (inflatable sculptures), light installations, gouaches, hitherto not exhibited drawings, new ceramics and reliefs. Here, the multiplicity of media, with which the artist has worked throughout the course of his career comprises the focus of the exhibition. In addition to early paintings, which he illuminates with a stroboscope, the key work shown in the exhibition is the multi-piece air sculpture “Fleurs du Mal”.
Following his studies at the art academies of Munich and Düsseldorf, as well as a course of studies in philosophy in Cologne, towards the end of the 1950s, Otto Piene, together with Heinz Mack and Günther Uecker, was one of the founders of the ZERO movement in Düsseldorf. In 1974 he took over the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), at the MIT in Boston, from György Kepes and, through to 1994, converted it into one of the most important centers for art and technology. As member of the board of trustees, in 1990 Piene contributed decisively to the foundation of the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe. Today, he lives and works in Boston, Berlin and Düsseldorf.