A leading figure in kinetic and technology-based art, Otto Piene was born in Bad Laasphe, Germany in 1928. After studying painting and art education at the Academy of Art in Munich and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, and philosophy at the University of Cologne, Piene founded the influential Group Zero in Düsseldorf with Heinz Mack and Günther Uecker in 1957.
Piene was the first fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) in 1968, succeeding founder György Kepes in 1974 as its director until retiring in 1994.
Piene had his first solo exhibition in 1959 at Galerie Schmela in Düsseldorf and has had numerous exhibitions and retrospectives, including at the Kunstmuseum im Ehrenhof, Düsseldorf, in 1996, and at the Prague City Gallery, Prague, in 2002. His works are included in nearly two hundred museums and public collections around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Nationalgalerie Berlin; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the MIT List Visual Arts Center. Piene represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1967 and 1971, and exhibited at documenta in Kassel, Germany, in 1959, 1964, and 1977. Piene’s Centerbeam (1977), a pioneering multimedia work created with a team of artists for documenta 6, was later exhibited on the National Mall in Washington, DC. For the closing ceremony of the 1972 Munich Olympics, Piene created Olympic Rainbow, a “sky art” piece comprised of five helium-filled tubes that flew over the stadium. Piene received the Sculpture Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1996.
He lives and works in Groton, Massachusetts, and Düsseldorf, Germany.