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Oral history interview with Otto Piene, 1988 Aug. 4-1990 Feb. 22

Oral history interview with Otto Piene, 1988 Aug. 4-1990 Feb. 22

Piene, Otto, 1928-

Painter, Arts administrator

Collection Information

Size: 7 sound cassettes (9 hr., 52 min.)

Format: Originally recorded on 7 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 13 digital wav files. Duration is 9 hr., 52 min. First cassette begins with some distortion, lasting approximately one minute. Side B of cassette 2 was recorded in three parts due to tape defect in original, with no loss of content. Cassette 6 only recorded on side A.

Summary: An interview of Otto Piene conducted 1988 Aug. 4-1990 Feb. 22, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art.

Piene speaks of his childhood in Westphalia, Germany; his World War II military service; the decision to become an artist; training in Dusseldorf, 1949-1952; the founding of Group Zero, with Heinz Mack, in Dusseldorf, 1957-1966; visits to the United States in the 1960s and some of his early work and exhibitions; his work as director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, beginning in 1974; light and sky art projects.

Biographical/Historical Note

Otto Piene (1928- ) is a painter and art administrator from Cambridge, Mass.


These interviews are part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and others.


Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce must be obtained from: Otto Piene, Center for Advanced Visual Studies, MIT, 40 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Otto Piene, 1988 Aug. 4-1990 Feb. 22. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.