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 represented Austria together with Herbert Boeckl. In his later works, the artist deals in particular with topics such as war, violence and fascism. His most important work is the memorial against war and fascism which he made in 1988 and can now be seen at the Albertinaplatz in Vienna.
Hrdlicka was already sensitized for political questions early on. He was particularly influenced by the political turmoil of the interwar period and by his father, who, as a communist trade union official, was repeatedly confronted with house searches during National Socialism. 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. In 1952 he earned the diploma of the academic painter. Between 1953 and 1957 he turned to sculpture and also studied this field at the Viennese Academy under Fritz Wotruba. 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 therefore not surprising that the artist, on the one hand, gives the stone itself its shape directly, without the help of machines or personnel. On the other hand, he works on capturing the breadth of the eventfulness of his materials by means of graphics and drawing. Confident and consistent, he always maintained an independent position in his works and thus often provided discourse. Between 1971 and 1986 Hrdlicka held professorships for sculpture, among others at the State Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart and the University of the Arts Berlin. 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 spoke of Alfred Hrdlicka as a "titan of international art" and thus, in addition to his extensive artistic work, also paid tribute to his political debates.