Born in Laasphe in 1928, Otto Piene studied painting and art education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich as well as at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, while simultaneously completing a second degree in philosophy.
In 1957, together with Heinz Mack, Piene founded the ZERO artists’ movement in Düsseldorf as a reaction to abstract Art Informel.
The group strives for a fundamental artistic new beginning and propagates the renunciation of traditional art principles and media of art. Instead of brush and paint, the group relies on new materials and elemental forces of nature. The artists around Piene were fascinated by light, fire and air and wanted to include the artistic creation of these elements in their works.