Otmar Alt Biography

Otmar Alt




Painter, printmaker, sculpter, and multi-media artist Otmar Alt was born in Wernigerode, Germany, in 1940 to musician and church music director Rudlof Hermann Alt and Dorothea Stiemke Alt. In 1945, as a result of World War II, his family's home was bombed and all assets were lost, leading the Alts to move frequently. However, they managed to provide Otmar with music lessons and a general appreciation of the arts, and music - especially jazz - would influence his future visual work. His mother finally settled in West Berlin in 1951 while his father continued to search for work, and in 1956 Otmar took an apprenticeship as a poster designer and shop window dresser. He found success in the commercial arts and he began studies in draughtsmanship and fashion design at the Berlin Technical School in 1959.

In 1960 Alt took courses with Walter Bergmann and Hermann Bachmann, his first foray into fine art with classes in figure drawing and painting. He was soon accepted into the University of the Arts, Berlin, where he studied under Karl Hartung, Berhanrd Hailiger, and Ulrich Knispel. At this time he turned his attention to abstraction with a focus on imagined worlds using bright, color-drenched shapes that interlock, a Pop Art style that become one of his hallmarks. After completing his master studies, he trained as a set designer and began exhibiting his prints and paintings. His first solo exhibition took place at in Berlin at the popular Like Bari cafe, and in 1965 he won the Franz Rohe Prize for a painting titled "Konig Wolke". He was soon exhibiting throughout the Federal Republic of Germany.

Alt relocated to Italy from 1974 to 1977, developing his sculpture technique and completing various series of printed works. He returned to Germany and continued to work, establishing himself as a leading contemporary German Abstract artist working in a variety of mediums. In 1991 he received the German Freemason's Culture Prize, and in the same year he established the Otmar Alt Foundation, which aimed to support young artists; the foundation offically opened its doors and a grant program in 1996. 

Otmar Alt continues to work from his studio in Norddinker, North Rhine-Westphalia, and has expanded his oeuvre to include furniture, clothing, and toy design as well as a commuter train in the Rur Valley. His most recent exhibitions include "Otmar Alt: Punctuations of Time" (retrospective), Rosenberg Fortress, Kronach, 2010; "Lebenskunst: The World is Becoming More Colorful," Badenweiler Galerie, 2015; "Otmar Alt: Paths of Life," Kunsthalle Messmer, Reigel am Kaiserstuhl, 2018. His works can be found at the Walter Art Museum; the Indianapolis Museum; the Wilhelm Fabry Museum, the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, Oklahoma; the Volkswagen AutoMuseum, the German Freemasons Museum; and the Vier-Jahreszeiten-Park Oelde, among others.