The ethecon foundation
is delighted to have cooperated with the great contemporary artist Otto Piene (Germany / USA), a well-known fellow-campaigner for the idea of the foundation. Piene contributed highly with his artistic and social critical commitment to safe the “Blue Planet” within the “Blue Planet Project” of the ethecon foundation.
Otto Piene was born in the Westphalian town Laasphe, Germany in 1928. He studied art in Munich and Düsseldorf. In 1957 he founded the world-famous group Zero together with Heinz Mack. The first raster images and light objects were created. Elements play an important role for him. Star signs that he also donated to the foundation, then sun as the source of light and fire. But Piene had the idea to form the group and for its name. “Zero is an expression of human need to build a new world despite the apparent chaos and fruitlessness of our efforts: to build with what nature has given us and human talent, with universal energy and technology.” This early quotation based on the Gospel of John that talks about „a new sky and a new earth“ in which the society lives in peace and justice can be understood as an anticipation of Otto Piene’s environmental commitment later on.
Otto Piene was already interested in the universe from an early age on. He never saw it just as a distant world though. He always saw it as space that needs to be understood by humans – as an artist and creating person. The first light rooms were created in which the viewer can understand him/herself as part of the universe, as part of a universe created by Piene. The artist recreated one of these light rooms on the occasion of the big ZERO retrospective in 2006. Many people were highly impressed, but especially young people who did not experience and witness the emergence of the artistic avant-garde of the 50s could not believe their eyes.
Piene is also the inventor of sky art. Piene and his team staged spectacular events in many parts of the world. In 1971 Piene was engaged to create artistic designs for the opening and closing ceremony of the 20th Olympic Games. On September 11, 1972 his 100 metre long “Olympia rainbow” spanned above the lake of the Olympic site in Munich. After the cruel massacre of athletes of the Israeli Olympic team the “Olympia rainbow” became a memorable symbol of peace and reconciliation.
Sky art also adopts motifs of the ancient mythology. Large sized celestial sculptures represent Ikarus, Dädalus and Minotaurus. Or the red horse that Piene literally fired into the sky on the occasion of the annual equestrian games in Sienna in 2005. In 1995 the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf presented a big retrospective complete oeuvre of Piene. The retrospect became a festival of sky art where the most famous celestial objects of the “superstar” were shown, as the tabloid newspaper “Express” said.
Otto Piene received more and more public recognition in the course of time for his outstanding international artistic work:
- In 1964 Piene was appointed as a guest professor at the University Of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
- In 1986 Piene was invited to teach at the Center for Advanced Visual Studied (CAVS) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge / Massachusets.
- In 1972 Piene bacame „visiting professor“ for environmental art at the faculty of architecture of the MIT
- In 1974 he was appointed as Gyorgy Kepe’s successor as the director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT.
- In addition to his obligations at MIT, together with Mel Alexanderberg, Piene was director of LightsOROT for the Yeshiva University Museum in New York from 1987 till 1988.
Otto Piene is today, beyond his passing in Juli 2014, one of the major players in the international art world. His fire pictures are world-famous and achieved top prices in the international art market. Piene is represented in all leading museums worldwide. His work was heaped with awards.
- In 1994 he was awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Fine Arts h.c.) by the University of Maryland, B.C..
- In 1996 he received the Sculpture Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York
- In 2003 Otto Piene was honoured with the Jean Miró medal of UNESCO as well as with the well-known Leonardo da Vinci Award.
Please choose another topic via the menu bar.