The artist was born in Poland in 1974. She studied at the Frankfurt Academy of Fine Art (Städelschule) under Professors Angermann and Krebber from 1996 until 2003, and became a master class student in the subject of Painting. In the years 2000 and 2001, a scholarship abroad made it possible for her to spend time at the Accademia D’Arte di Brera in Milan.
The central theme of her works are adolescents whose direct and earnest gazes attest to their emotional world – loneliness, innocence and loss of innocence, helplessness and indifference. Justine Otto depicts her mostly female protagonists in the process of performing puzzling actions. Furthermore, the facial expressions and gestures of her figures reinforce the disquiet that arises when the mysterious scenes and settings are viewed. The actions seem playful, gestures and gazes full of innocence, whereas the surroundings are full of secrets and signs that are impossible to decipher. As a matter of principle Justine Otto’s pictures are not conducive to a simple interpretation. By means of soft zones of light and shadow blending into one another, interrupted by garish colour accents, she generates a strong vibrancy that is further reinforced by suggestive spatial settings.
In the year 2005, Justine Otto received the Volker Hinniger Prize of the City of Bamberg. In 2007 her series were shown at Kunsthaus Essen and at the art society Kunstverein Aschaffenburg. In 2009 the artist was awarded an exchange scholarship by Künstlerhaus Lukas, Ahrenshoop, to Skagaströnd, Iceland. In 2011 Justine Otto was honoured with the Cultural Award of the District of Lüneburg, as well as the Art Prize of the Lüneburg Regional Authority. The latter also entailed a solo exhibition at the Forum für Junge Kunst in Wolfsburg, which preceded the exhibition at the gallery.
In 2013 she won the Dr. Rolf Seisser Prize of the Lions Club Frankfurt and in 2014 she received the Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize in Washington.
Since 2012 her works have been on display in various exhibitions, among others at the Jesuit Church in Aschaffenburg, the group exhibition “Kunsthalle Darmstadt macht Schule”, at the Museum Franz Gertsch in Switzerland as well as at the art society Kunstverein Duisburg in 2015.
In addition, this year her works were displayed under the title “hyder flares” in an exhibition organised by the Goethe Institute in Washington D.C..
The works of Justine Otto can be found in numerous private and public collections, among others in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., in the Collection of the Hessian State Museum and in the SØR Rusche Collection, Oelde/Berlin.
Today the artist lives and works near Hamburg.