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Otto Piene (1928-2014)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more GERMAN MASTERPIECES FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Otto Piene (1928-2014)

Bronze und Gold (Bronze and Gold)

Otto Piene (1928-2014)
Bronze und Gold (Bronze and Gold)
signed with the artist's monogram 'OPiene' (on the reverse)
oil, bronze paint and gold paint on canvas
100 x 80cm.
Executed in 1958-1959
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1959.
Wiesbaden, Städtisches Museum Wiesbaden, Gemäldegalerie, Ausstellung Deutscher Künstlerbund, 1959.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1958-1959, Otto Piene’s Gold und Bronze is a stunning array of luminescence. Extending across the vast surface of the painting, gold and bronze dots shimmer in rhythmic surges of paint. Building on his Rasterbild works, Gold und Bronze emits a vibrating power, enveloping the viewer in a metallic glow. Generating its own light-intensity, the Rasterbilder aimed at depicting a wave-like sensation in radiant colour. Curator Michelle Y. Kuo described the experience of looking at the Rasterbilder: ‘If the eye is stimulated by the all over ‘vibration’ of the picture, it is also pulled into a scanning motion, tracking the lines as if reading information’ (M.Y. Kuo, ‘Spectre’, Otto Piene: Lichtballett, exh. cat., Cambridge, MA, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2011, p. 62). Fundamental to Piene’s conceptual framework were his understandings of vibration and of the image as an energy-generating surface; the artist described this as a ‘vehicle of frequency, the blood of colour, the pulse of light, pure emotion, the purity of a picture, pure energy’ (O. Piene quoted in Zero Künstler einer europäischen Bewegung, Sammlung Lenz Schönberg 1956-2000, exh. cat., Salzburg, Museum der Moderne Salzburg Mo¨nchsberg, 2006, p. 122). Indeed, Gold und Bronze is at once illusory and inviting, and a dizzying evocation of the spatialist regard for and fascination with light, which would come to dominate the rest of his career.

In 1958, Piene co-founded the ZERO group with Heinz Mack with the aim of imaging light and space through the introduction of new methods of painting. Like the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, ZERO, too, endeavoured to remake the in the aftermath of of World War II. ZERO would grow to include artists such as Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana, among others, who together strived for a radical and ambitious new visual vocabulary. Particularly inspired by Klein’s monochromes and Fontana’s punctured and slashed canvases, Piene embraced a new spatiality that would allow him to use space, time, light and movement as sculptural mediums. Abandoning conventional methods of creation, he instead fashioned an innovative system: to render his dots he used a perforated screen to produce a dazzling tactility. As Piene wrote, ‘Although painting, like a living organism, relies on light for its existence, painters have seldom given light the attention it deserves’ (O. Piene, ‘On the Purity of Light’, 1958, reprinted in Otto Piene: Lichtballett, exh. cat., Cambridge, MA, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2011, p. 25).

Gold und Bronze presents a hypnotic field of thrumming lustrous striations, and the colour has its own persuasively buoyant power: ‘The energy of light emanating from the field,’ said Piene, ‘is converted mysteriously into the spectator’s vital energy’ (O. Piene, ‘Zero 2’, 1958, Otto Piene: Lichtballett, exh. cat., Cambridge, MA, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2011, p. 23). Certainly, Gold und Bronze foreshadows the three-dimensional light works that Piene would create. Still, to look at the painting is to be all-consumed in a palpable evanescence. Gold und Bronze is the glory of light through paint, a fleeting atmospheric presence caught on canvas.

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