July 18, 2014

Otto Piene is dead

 According to BBC News, Otto Piene died on Thursday, shortly after the opening of an exhibition of his work at Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie. He died in a taxi en route to the exhibition where he was working on "More Sky,"  a sky art event that is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

Here's a statement I put together for Artsy a few years ago about Otto Piene:
A founder of the 1960s Dusseldorf group, Zero, Otto Peine (b. 1928) is best known for his paintings made with smoke and fire. Called "Rauchbilder" (smoke pictures), Peine applied solvent to pigmented paper and lit it on fire, developing images in the residual soot. Piene coined the term “Sky Art” to describe his outdoor projects that floated overhead, including Olympic Rainbow, a project created for the ill-fated 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich where eleven 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian gunmen. For nearly twenty years, Piene served as the director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in 2008, with Heinz Mack and Mattijs Visser, he co-founded the International ZERO Foundation to archive documents, projects, and images produced by the famous Dusseldorf collective.
The Guggenheim is planning "ZERO: Countfdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s," a large survey of ZERO artists this fall. 

Otto Piene, Rasterbild, 1957-58, oil on canvas, 8 3/4 x 27 5/8 inches. courtesy of Sperone Westwater. Private Collection

Image at top: The Proliferation of the Sun, a recreation of a 1967 project is on display in Berlin through August 31. Piene initially developed the project for a small stage in New York at the end of his time with ZERO in 1967, and performed it again that year in Nuremberg, Cologne, and Dortmund.

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