Paris Star and Cereus, 2011. Helium-filled polythene tubes, dimensions variable.

Light, Sky and Fire: A Conversation with Otto Piene

A pioneer of light and kinetic art, Otto Piene, who lives and works in Düsseldorf and Groton, Massachusetts, has been pursuing a utopian synthesis of aesthetics and science since the 1950s. After studying painting and art education at the Academy of Art in Munich and the Kunst­akademie Düsseldorf, as well as philosophy at the University of Cologne, he teamed up with Heinz Mack in 1957 to establish a new artistic direction. Their “Zero Hour” experiments soon formalized into a movement that attracted the interest of Hans Haacke, Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, and Piero Manzoni. From ZERO to smoke and fire paintings, to new art forms such as kinetic light environments and multimedia “sky art,” Piene’s diverse investigations into the perception of light, space, and color are now inspiring a new generation. He is perhaps best known for his Lichtballett works. First produced with hand-operated lamps directed through perforated stencils, the light ballets became mechanized in the 1960s.…see the entire article in the print version of June’s Sculpture magazine.