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Karl Otto Gotz

Karl Otto Götz

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Karl Otto Götz (22 February 1914 – 19 August 2017) often simply called K.O. Götz, was a German artist, filmmaker, draughtsman, printmaker, writer and professor of art at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He was one of the oldest living and active artists older than 100 years of age and is known for his explosive and complex abstract forms. His powerful, surrealist-inspired works earned him international recognition in exhibitions like documenta II in 1959. Götz never confined himself to one specific style or artistic field. He also explored generated abstract forms through television art. Götz is one of the most important members of the German Art Informel movement. His works and teachings influenced future artists such as Sigmar Polke, Nam June Paik and Gerhard Richter. He lived in Wolfenacker from 1975 until his death.

Born in Aachen, Germany, Götz began painting in secondary school in 1924. In 1930 he began painting abstracts. He attended the School of Applied Arts from 1932 to 1933. His early paintings were characterized by the modernist/avante-garde movements, surrealism and expressionism. Gӧtz was specifically influenced by artists such as Max Ernst, Juan Gris, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. After the takeover of Germany by the Nazi Party, painting became difficult for Gӧtz. He was banned from painting and exhibiting due to the national disapproval of abstract and surrealist art. However, he was able to make a living by creating and selling landscape paintings. Götz was drafted into the Wehrmacht Air Force and served his mandatory military service from 1936 to 1938. In World War II he became a signal officer in German-occupied Norway. Götz was able to continue to experiment with various media such as spray paint, photograms (created without the use of a camera by placing objects on photographic paper exposed then exposing it to light), and abstract cine-films. He moved to Dresden, Saxony and concentrated on abstract painting, combining geometric and organic elements. His early paintings were destroyed in the Bombing of Dresden in 1945. Gӧtz returned from Norway after the end of the war and married Anneli Brauckmeyer. Their marriage ended in 1965 and Götz remarried, to German artist Rissa, also known as Karin Martin.

Television art can be defined as art made for or with broadcast television. Because of the medium’s electronic makeup, poor resolution, small scale images and various viewing conditions, television art began less related to avant-garde film and more closely related to abstract art. This medium was primarily worked with artists who focused on non-figurative representations in other media.

During the war, Gӧtz worked with many ground-based radars. He began to manipulate these radars electronically in order to create moving abstract forms. His goal of creating the large rastered pictures was to create ‘electron paintings’ imitating the form animated television pictures. Gӧtz’s work and theoretical ideas influenced artist like Nam June Paik, a Korean American artist who is considered the founder of video art. It is said that these experiments have led to Gӧtz making the decision to only create abstract works.

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Karl Otto Gotz Artworks
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