Alchemist and Stormer of the Skies
17. Mar 2019 – 05. Jan 2020
»Light is the first condition of all visibility. Light is the sphere of colour. Light is the vital principal of humankind and of the image.... Light accounts for the power and magic of the image, its wealth, its eloquence, its sensuality, its beauty.«
As a co-founder of the ZERO movement in Dusseldorf in 1958, Otto Piene (1928-2014) is one of the protagonists of international abstraction after 1945. On the occasion of the great ZERO farewell party in 1966, Piene himself already was a guest at Rolandseck, which is why we are particularly pleased to pay tribute to his work here. Piene continued to develop his art throughout his life, as the exhibition shows by means of 60 or so canvases, ceramics and light works. Central to Piene's oeuvre is the crossing of traditional boundaries of works and moving towards the sensual experience of light and space. This sensuality is achieved in the abstract grid and fire pictures as well as in the ceramics by specifically treating the surfaces in terms of colour, structure and relief. In various groups of works one connecting element becomes apparent: the circle – a formal constant and at the same time a symbol for the infinity of space. Piene carries this symbolism forward with references to the cosmos, the firmament and the stars.
The cosmic references can be found in his work titles and, above all, can be experienced in the specially reconstructed Lichtraum Jena (light space Jena) from 2007. As a symbolic conquest of the sky, one of the famous inflatables expands the Rolandseck exhibition into the outside space. In particular through the idea of art that can be experienced in space, a distinct proximity to Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) becomes apparent, the founder of the Spazialismo, whom Otto Piene greatly appreciated. The parallels between the two in terms of their artistic sense are illustrated by a small selection of Fontana's works, which are shown in dialogue with those of Piene. In addition, surprising references to the works of Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp visualise Otto Piene's roots in modern abstraction.
The exhibition is developed as a collaboration between the More Sky Collection, Dr. Edgar Quadt, the Otto Piene Estate and the Sprüth Magers gallery.
Curator of Contemporary Art
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Head of Communication
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