press release

The MIT List Visual Arts Center will present an exhibition of the light-based sculptural work of renowned media artist Otto Piene. Known for programmed light environments and multimedia “sky art,” Piene was a founder of the influential Group ZERO, a Düsseldorf-based group of artists, started in 1957, that pioneered performance, kinetic, and environmental art. Piene was the first fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) in 1968, eventually succeeding founder Gyorgy Kepes as its director until 1994.

The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a major work from the MIT List collection, Electric Rose (1965). Restored in close collaboration with the artist, the piece is comprised of an aluminum ball of over 150 violet filament bulbs pulsating light. The piece was originally shown at the Howard Wise Gallery, New York, in 1965, as part of the first Group ZERO exhibition in the United States. Along with this significant early work, the exhibition will include several of the artist's recent sculptures that continue an ongoing exploration of light as an artistic and communicative medium.

About the Artist Otto Piene was born in Bad Laasphe, Germany in 1928 and lives and works in Groton, Massachusetts, and Düsseldorf, Germany. Between 1949 and 1953, he studied painting and art education at the Academy of Art in Munich and the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. From 1952 to 1957, he studied philosophy at the University of Cologne. From 1968 to 1971, he was the first Fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS), founded by Gyorgy Kepes. In 1972, he became a Professor of Environmental Art at MIT, succeeding Kepes as director of the CAVS in 1974, a position held until 1994. His work has been exhibited extensively worldwide. He represented Germany at the Venice Biennale in 1967 and 1971, and exhibited at documenta in Kassel, Germany, in 1959, 1964 and 1977.

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Otto Piene
Light Ballet