The artist Gottfried Mairwöger

Aurora, oil on canvas, 1985, 250 x 500 cm

Except for a cursory mention of the modest circumstances of a childhood in a small village in Upper Austria, and of years at a boarding school in Linz, the observations made here are limited to the time after Gottfried Mairwöger's entry into art school in Vienna- a more detailed treatment would exceed the nature of an introduction, especially as it seems doubtful that it would shed light on what arouses in a young person growing up in an environment basically unappreciative of art, the desire to paint and the wish to become an artist. Among the possibilities to study painting in Vienna in 1971 Mairwöger instinctively seeks acceptance at the class of Josef Mikl at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. With Josef Mikl and Wolfgang Hollegha who two years later takes over the class, Mairwöger is fortunate to have as teachers painters who themselves produced some of the better art in Austria after 1945. In spite of tutorial patience with students they are instructors of uncompromising analytic ability, unwilling to accept comfortable solutions, or results which "look good". They are teachers concerned equipping students both with technical skills and an understanding of the difficulties and dilemmas inherent in the development of creative ideas and the search for personal expression.


Once accepted at the academy, Mairwöger works with single- minded fervor producing a constant flow of drawings and paintings- some nude drawings but mostly still- lives and landscapes, the latter often reminiscent of the countryside surrounding the village of Tragwein where he grew up. Soon, in 1974, his work is discovered by the Ulysses Gallery in Vienna, one of the most prestigious galleries for modern art in Vienna at the time. A year later, Mairwöger has his first solo exhibition in the very same gallery that also hosts Mikl and Hollegha at the time, his famous teachers.

"I paint, because I want to see. To me, a painting is exponentiated colour". Gottfried Mairwöger

This marks the beginning of the rising star Mairwöger, whose ascension in the art scene begins with light speed. Exhibitions in Germany and France are soon followed by the first shows in America. In Germany he had met the American art critic and essayist Clement Greenberg, which resulted in a friendship that introduced Gottfried Mairwöger to the American art scene, resulting in friendships with several artists, e.g. Larry Poons, Kikou Saito and Michael Steiner, and exhibitions in New York and Chicago.


In 1982, Gottfried Mairwöger was awarded with the Monsignore-Otto-Mauer Prize, one of the most important prizes for modern art in Austria. This award marked the peak of his career.

His early death in 2003 came at a point where he introduced a new characteristic to his work, the embedding of act scenes in colorfield backgrounds. This very little known facette represents a new discovery in his works, and will be introduced to the public shortly. His heritage remains an important part of Austrian modern painting after 1945 until today.