“I have something real to offer. Instead of narrowing the field of vision, instead of absorption, a view of something giving, flowing, pulsating. Not the shrinking of the world in the cells of human imagination, but expansion on every side, the shooting of the viewer into space, where he can breathe deeply of fresh air. In this heaven is paradise on earth.” – Otto Piene
As a founding member of the Group Zero, Otto Piene was one of the most influential artists of post-war Germany. Specializing in abstraction and kinetic art, the so-called “Rauchbilder”, paintings made with smoke and fire, are among his most prominent artworks. Piene applied solvent to pigmented paper and lit it on fire, using the residual soot to develop images. From the beginnings of his career, Otto Piene was very innovative in exploring the correlation between nature, art and technology. Alongside Heinz Mack, he established the legendary Group Zero in 1958, which was later also joined by Günther Uecker, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana. The artists were united in their desire to de-emphasize the role of the artist and to create art that was only about the artwork’s materials and world in which those materials exist. In other words: light and space. Otto Piene was born 1928 in Laasphe, Germany, and died 2014 in Berlin.