Bruno Gironcoli

1936 (Villach) - 2010 (Vienna)

After completing an apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Innsbruck (1951 - 56) which he completed with the journey-level, Gironcoli studied at the Academy of Applied Arts, Vienna (1957-59 and 1961-62) with professor E. Bäumer. In 1960/61 he stayed in Paris and encountered French Modernism, the abstract expressionism and Alberto Giacometti's figures that should later became important points of reference for his œuvre. In 1963, he continued his studies at the Academy of Applied Arts in Vienna, moving to Eugen Meier's master class, where metal working was taught.

Inspired by Giacometti, he made his first sculptures in the 1960s: wire sculptures which he named "gescheiterte Dinge", i.e. failed things. Further works of art made of wood, Nylon, iron, aluminum, glass and pitch were created. From 1964, he also used polyester for his works. In the 1970s, he re-defined the sculpture concept for himself and created object arrangements including everyday objects spreading in the room. In this time, subjects like violence, oppression and sex played an important role upon conceiving his sculptures. His assembly-like large-scale objects that Werner Hofmann called "toys for giants" were also based on these subjects.

In 1967, he had his first solo exhibition in the Galerie Hildebrand, Klagenfurt. From 1977-2004, he taught as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, in succession to Prof. Fritz Wotruba he directed the master school for sculpture. His salary allowed him and his family to be independent of the art market. As a teacher, he influenced a whole generation of artistsFranz West and Hans Schabus are amongst his students. In 1989, he was awarded the first Austrian Sculpture Award of Erste Allgemeine Generali Foundation. In 1993, he was awarded the Große Österreichische Staatspreis (Grand Austrian State Prize). In 1997, his exhibition "Die Ungeborenen" ("The Unborn") was shown in the Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna. In the same year, he was honored with the Austrian Medal for Science and Art in Austria.

In 2003, Gironcoli was the official representative of Austria for the Venice Bienniale and also became renowned on an international level. His works were exhibited in Bochum, Milan, Cologne, Basle, Geneva, Paris, Bologna and Frankfurt.Solo exhibitions were rare because of the enormous size of his objects and the transport problems. In 2004, the Gironcoli Museum opened in Herberstein where 35 sculptures of the artist and 400 African masks and sculptures from his collection are exhibited. In the same year, the private collection Gironcoli Kristall of the Viennese Strabag headquarters was made accessible to the public. 

Bruno Gironcoli's working life is like a long-term decision and reaction to a certain situation, that later became set or took form as a sculptural idea. His physical change, i.e. ageing in connection with his intentions were kinds of working methods similar to those of a worker who earned money in a second job, in order to compensate for his losses in his first job. Gironcoli decided to re-use individual elements from the history of sculpture and to re-integrate them in his work by a kind of repetitive gesture, but without imitating himself. He was satisfied with picking up existing forms and integrating them into his works. Old objects created because of needs or functional needs were woven into rituals and were thus attributed a new raison d'être.

He incorporated everyday objects, nature quotations, baby and embryo forms in his sculptures; moreover, his seemingly organic objects are associated with machines. In his works, subjects such as the mother, birth, pursuit of happiness or failure play a role. Some of his sculptures also deal with death and fascism. Gironcoli's sculptures fascinate their beholders, since they are giant and truly impressive. Due to his highly original understanding of sculpture as objects of huge dimensions, he revolutionized the traditional concept and influenced Austrian contemporary art in a sustainable manner.