Alfred Hrdlicka

(1928 - Wien - 2009)
Alfred Hrdlicka was born on February 27, 1928 in Vienna. He was one of the most important Austrian sculptors, graphic artists, painters, draughtsmen and writers of the 20th century, who was also politically committed. He gained international fame through the 32nd Venice Biennale, where he co-founded Austria with Herbert Boeckl. In his later works, the artist deals in particular with the themes of war, violence and fascism. His most important work is the memorial against war and fascism erected in 1988 on the Albertinaplatz in Vienna.
Strengthened by the political turmoil of the inter-war period as well as by his father, who was repeatedly confronted with house searches as a communist trade unionist during National Socialism, Hrdlicka was already sensitized early to political questions. After completing his apprenticeship as a dental technician, 18-year-old Hrdlicka studied painting and graphics at the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts from 1946 onwards under Albert Paris Gütersloh and Josef Dobrowsky, and in 1952 he earned the diploma of the academic painter. Between 1953 and 1957 he turned to sculpture and also studied at the Viennese Academy under Fritz Wotruba sculpture. Hrdlicka achieved first artistic successes in 1960 in the scope of his exhibition "Skulptur, Malerei und Grafik" in the Zedlitzhalle in Vienna. Contrary to the abstract tendencies of his time, Hrdlicka fought for an expressive figurativeness which was to become the striking feature of his style. He was conscious of this by opposing any kind of time-flow and fashion. Instead, Alfred Hrdlicka always understood himself as an artist in the tradition of old masters, who is concerned with various art genres and devotes himself to them. It is thus not surprising that the artist, on the one hand, gives the stone itself, without mechanical or personal support, its form and, on the other hand, works by means of graphics and drawing in order to grasp its substances in the breadth of the event. Confident and consistent, he thus always maintained an independent position in his works and thus often provided discourse. Between 1971 and 1986, Hrdlicka had professorships for sculpture, among others. at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and the Berlin University of the Arts. In 1989, he was also appointed to the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. After his death on 5 December 2009, the Austrian Minister of Culture Claudia Schmied of Alfred Hrdlicka spoke as a "titan of international art" and thus, in addition to his extensive artistic work, also paid tribute to his political debates.

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