b. 1928 Baadlasphe, Germany – d. 2014 Berlin, Germany


From 1948 until 1950 Piene studied at the Blocherschule and at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste in Munich and subsequently moved to the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. From 1955 Piene created letter reliefs and perforated grid-light boxes; two years later he developed the first of his grid pictures (monochrome vibration structures, that offered resistance to light). At the same time, together with Heinz Mack, he organised the first evening exhibition in his studio in Gladbacher Strabe in Düsseldorf, effectively the start of Group ZERO, and up until 1961 they edited Zero magazine.


Over the course of the 60s Piene experimented with multimedia performances and with light, smoke, fire and air as well as helium sculptures. In 1964 he took up his first visiting professorship at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; a year later he moved to New York. In 1974 Piene became the Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he widened the scope for telecommunications, laser, video, hologram, sky art and environment art.