Karl Otto Götz

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Karl Otto Götz
Born (1914-02-22) 22 February 1914 (age 100)
Aachen, Germany
Occupation Artist

Karl Otto Götz (born 22 February 1914) is a German artist who is best known for his spontaneous abstract painting in the Informel ('art without form') style.[1][2] Important elements in his surrealist-influenced work are a spontaneous abstract creativity and the manual rendering of automatically created randomly generated images.

Early life[edit]

Born in Aachen, Germany, Götz began painting while at secondary school. In 1930 he began painting abstracts and then experimented with collages. After the National Socialists came to power in Germany official disapproval of his abstract splash paintings and surrealistic works led to Götz being banned from painting and exhibiting in Nazi Germany. He survived by selling landscape paintings to tourists.[2]

During World War II, Götz was drafted into the army but was nevertheless able to continue his studies and meet fellow artists.[2] It was while serving as a soldier during the War that Götz developed an interest in the aesthetics of radar images. Early experimentation eventually led (1960 onwards) to an interest in producing "electron paintings" that would emulate the form of an animated television picture, using large rastered images generated by a computer programme and then painted by hand.[1]

Early career[edit]

K. O. Götz, 27.5.1954, 1954
K. O. Götz, Bagatelle II, 1962

Götz's early post-War work included extensive experimentation with techniques and imagery in prints and drawings that included drawings made using an airpump. He produced woodcuts and watercolours that featured fantastical plant forms and creatures, among them a series of monotype prints of bird-humans.[3] During the late 1940s he continued to producing abstract-figurative monotypes and surrealistic experimental photo works, but his painting became predominantly abstract. He gave up figurative art in 1949, the year he was invited to join the COBRA group.[2][3]

The work of the COBRA group contributed to the emergence of Art Informel in the period after 1950 as a “universal language” for European artists involved in the development of European abstract expressionism and Tachisme. In 1952 Götz was one of the four co-founders, with Otto Greis, Heinz Kreutz and Bernard Schultze, of the Frankfurt ‘Quadriga’, a group of artists painting in a Tachist style influenced by Wols and Automatism.[4] During the group's brief existence, before the divergence of its loosely associated members' artistic development led to its dissolution in 1954, Quadriga played an important pioneer role in introducing Art informel to Germany [5]

As Götz moved away from clearly defined forms, his approach to painting became more dynamic. In a technique Götz has continued to use throughout his later painting career, the image is developed through a lengthy, intense process, often involving a large number of preliminary sketches and gouaches. Once the preparation is complete, the artist applies dark paint onto a light background with a paintbrush, working in a fast and focused way. The paint is then “raked” - partially removed using a type of spatula known as a “rake” - before the contrast between the light and dark areas of the still-moist surface is softened using a dry paintbrush.[2][6]

Later career[edit]

K. O. Götz, Lezuk III, 2012

Götz's contemporary work (2010) features deeply colored abstract collages and hand-painted pieces based on a computer-generated random pixelation process. He turned 100 in February 2014.[7]

Teaching career[edit]

From 1948 to 1953 Götz co-published the magazine Meta and between 1959 and 1979 he was a professor at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf.[2] Amongst the artists Götz's work has influenced are Nam June Paik[1] and Götz's students at the Kunstakademie, including Gotthard Graubner, HA Schult, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and others.[2][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Medien Kunst Netz - Media Art Net "Karl Otto Götz - Statistisch-metrische Modulation 20: 10: 4: 2", accessed 7 February 2011
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Ketterer Kunst website, accessed 7 February 2011
  3. ^ a b Tate Collection website, accessed 10 February 2011
  4. ^ “Quadriga”, in “A Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art” by Ian Chilvers, pub. by Oxford University Press 1999, reproduced at www.encyclopedia.com], accessed 7 February 2011
  5. ^ All-art.org website, History of the 20th Century, Art in the Post-War Era, 1952 - Quadriga, accessed 11 February 2011
  6. ^ Obvious website, "Karl Otto Götz", 4 February 2007, accessed 7 February 2011
  7. ^ Maus, Burkhard (2014-02-22). "Karl Otto Götz – 100 Jahre" (in German). ART Das Kunstmagazin. Retrieved 2014-02-25. 
  8. ^ Oliver Kornhoff and Barbara Nierhoff, Karl Otto Götz: In Erwartung blitzschneller Wunder, exh. cat., Arp Museum, Remagen (Kerber Christof Verlag, 2010), p. 114.