Alf Lechner

(1925-2017), born in Munich. He is considered one of the most important German steel sculptors.

Biography 1925 - 2017

Alf Lechner was born in Munich on April 17, 1925 as the only son of middle-class parents. He began his artistic career in 1940 with the landscape and marine painter Alf Bachmann, who taught him how to paint in oil and pastel in Munich and at Lake Starnberg. After graduating from high school and serving in the Kriegsmarine, Lechner continued his studies with Alf Bachmann in 1946. In 1948, Lechner began training as a locksmith, whereupon he founded the company Litema (lighting technology and metal processing) and patented his own inventions. Among other things, he designed surgical lamps for dentists. He also worked successfully as a commercial graphic artist and built exhibition stands.

My whole goal in life is simplicity.

The works of Alf Lechner became known to a larger audience from the 1960s. As a result, he was present with exhibitions in all important museums of contemporary art in Germany and received numerous awards. Renowned art historians such as Prof. Dr. Dieter Honisch and Prof. Dr. Armin Zweite have dedicated studies to him. His work is represented at the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Vienna, the Lenbachhaus, Munich and the Zollverein Colliery, Essen, among others.

In 1962, Lechner moved with his family to Degerndorf on Lake Starnberg, sold his company Litema and realized his dream: to dedicate his life entirely to art. The first steel sculptures were created here. In 1968, his first exhibition took place at the Heseler Gallery in Munich. In 1972, he received the sponsorship prize from the City of Munich and shortly thereafter the work grant from the Kulturkreis, which enabled him to produce large sculptures in the Linde AG workshops. He was awarded the Art Prize of the Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1974, which was followed by exhibitions in all important museums of contemporary art in Germany, including the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, the Lenbachhaus Municipal Gallery in Munich, the Kiel Art Gallery, the State Gallery of Modern Art, the House of Art Munich, the New National Gallery Berlin and beyond national borders such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Liechtenstein Palace in Vienna and in Tokyo.

I'm not interested in anything that doesn't offer resistance.

In 1979 he received first prize in the contemporary sculpture competition “Dimension 79" by Philip Morris GmbH. The acquisition and conversion of a disused industrial building into a residential building and studio in Geretsried in Upper Bavaria enabled him to develop new production options for large sculptures. His first sculpture park was created in the vicinity of the studio. Important trips to Saudi Arabia and Japan brought him his first international assignment, namely to develop two sculptures for King Saud University in Riyadh.

There are so many complicated things in simplicity that you can't be simple enough. Real discoveries can only be made in the simplest forms.

In 1988, Lechner won first prize in the competition “Stadtbildhauer im Stadtpark Schloss Philippsruhe” Hanau. In 1990, he was awarded the medal “Munich glows” in gold by the state capital Munich. In 1990-1991, Alf Lechner was honorary professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1991 he received the Critics Prize for Fine Arts from the Association of German Critics e.V. in Berlin and the following year he was awarded the “Piepenbrock Prize for Skulptur”. In 1994 he was guest of honor at Villa Massimo in Rome for two months before he was appointed a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1995. From 1998 to 2002, the Institute for Foreign Relations (ifa) presented a special exhibition with sculptures and graphics by Alf Lechner in a total of eleven galleries/museums in Germany, Italy, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Hungary.

To see art, you need two hands: you have to wipe your eyes with them.

In 1999, he founded the Alf Lechner Foundation based in Obereichstätt, before the Alf Lechner Museum in Ingolstadt was ceremonially opened in 2000. In the same year, he received the Friedrich Bauer Prize for Fine Arts. In 2001, he and his wife Camilla moved from Geretsried to the former Royal Bavarian Iron Works in Obereichstätt, where he created a sculpture park on an area of over 23,000 square meters.

Sometimes quiet is louder than loud.

The Federal Cross of Merit First Class of the Federal Republic of Germany was awarded to Alf Lechner in 2002, and in 2008 he received the Bavarian Constitution Medal in gold. In 2010, the paper house in the Lechner Sculpture Park was opened, and in 2013, the large exhibition hall in the Lechner Sculpture Park was inaugurated. His important and multi-faceted oeuvre comprises over 800 sculptures, many models and over 4500 drawings, some of them large-format, as well as pastels and oil paintings from his youth. Alf Lechner is today considered one of the most important steel sculptors of the 20th century. He died on February 25, 2017 in Obereichstätt.

Curators' quotes about Alf Lechner

Prof. Dr. Dieter Honisch, former director of the National Gallery, Berlin

“Lechner bent, bent, rolled and hammered the steel, pierced and cut it, heated it and let it burst, set it up and put it together, concentrated and strung it together, inside and outside, in rooms and in places (...) He has calculated the bodies, steps and divisions and planned and developed them in countless drawings and models, and yet all his works appear completely spontaneous and completely original, like signs of another world, of an archaic period. They radiate a peculiar beauty and perfection that consists of nothing more than complicated numbers. ”

Prof. Dr. Armin Zweite, former director of the North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection K20, K21

“At the end of the 1960s, Alf Lechner emerged as a sculptor in an environment that was still largely influenced by figurative sculpture, especially in Munich. His preferred, even exclusive, working material is steel, although his vocabulary of forms was initially derived from the constructivism of the 1920s and thus to Euclidean geometry. However, he quickly found his unmistakable style between the concept of art and minimal art. For example, he is not interested in combining and varying common basic forms such as square, circle or cube, cuboid, sphere, but rather with their decomposition, division, fission and refraction.

The process of making therefore plays a central role in Lechner's work, where the properties of the steel are tested, i.e. its strength, hardness, ductility, corrosion resistance. The evocation of feelings of load and heaviness, the relationship between measure and weight, the differences between forging and rolling, cutting and flaming, and the contrast of compressed mass and emptiness or of concrete and imaginary form determine the character of his works. His extensive oeuvre, which covers a period of half a century, is therefore always about the relationship between technology and art, between rationality and emotionality, between reflection and process, calculation and chance — ultimately about rational action and almost irrational result. In doing so, the complex aesthetic effect competes with the often simple, but sometimes difficult to understand working principles. The entire oeuvre is characterized by an inner consistency and consistency, which, in times of a radical expansion of artistic practices and complete dissolution of quality criteria, has something extremely impressive. How young, innovative and able to develop his oeuvre has remained up to now has been observed up to now. “My whole goal in life is simplicity,” said the artist, and then continued: “There are so many complicated things in simplicity that you can't be simple enough. Real discoveries are only made in the simplest forms. The more cluttered a shape is, the less you see the essentials.”

Alf Lechner's oeuvre reveals two things: On the one hand, his emphatic reluctance towards the spirit of departure, optimism, the visionary (as promoted by Zero artists in the Rhineland), but on the other hand, an obvious departure from the sculptural processes that have been common to date. While people weld from Gonzalez to Chillida over and over again in order to produce a specific shape and make it a symbolic medium of expression, Lechner is concerned with the relationship between measure and material, between proportion and process, with geometry and physics. The procedural aspect also plays an important role. His work manifests a particular attitude which, on the one hand, connects him with important German sculptors such as Norbert Kricke, Erwin Reusch, Erich Hauser, and on the other hand also relates him to Richard Serra, Carl André, Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. Seen in this light, the dialogue between Europe and America continues in his highly independent oeuvre. ”

Works by Alf Lechner in public collections
  • Staatsgalerie Moderne Kunst, Munich
  • Glaskasten sculpture museum, Marl
  • Lenbachhaus, Munich
  • New National Gallery, Berlin
  • Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
  • Kunsthalle zu Kiel
  • Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
  • Federal Collection of Contemporary Art, Bonn
  • Städtische Kunsthalle Mannheim
  • State Gallery of Modern Art, Vienna
  • Franz Marc Museum, Murnau-Kochel
  • Sprengel Museum, Hanover
  • Phillippsruhe Palace Sculpture Park, City of Hanau
  • Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Mainz
  • Ingolstadt City Museum
  • Zollverein Colliery, Essen
  • Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlung, Munich
  • Museum Art Collection K 21, Düsseldorf
  • Städel Museum, Frankfurt
  • Neues Museum, Nuremberg
Alf Lechner - Awards

1972 Sponsorship Prize for Fine Arts from the City of Munich

1974 Art Prize of the Academy of Arts, Berlin

1979 1st prize “Dimension 79” (competition for contemporary sculptures)

1988 Art Sponsorship Prize “City Sculptor of the City of Hanau 1988”

1990 “Munich Lights” medal in gold from the state capital Munich

1991 German Critics Prize for the Visual Arts

1992 Piepenbrock Prize for sculpture

1993 Honorary Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich

1998 Ring of honor from the city of Geretsried; highest award in the city

2000 Friedrich-Baur Prize of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts

2002 “Pro meritis scientiae et litterarum” from the Bavarian State Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts

2002 Federal Order of Merit 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany 2008 Cultural Prize of the District of Upper Bavaria

2008 Bavarian Order of Merit

2010 Bavarian Constitution Medal in Gold

Alf Lechner — solo exhibitions

1968 Heseler Gallery, Munich

1969 Hella Nebelung Gallery, Düsseldorf

1969 Lempertz Contempora, Cologne

1970 Defet Gallery, Nuremberg

1970 House of Art, Munich

1971 Stangl Gallery, Munich

1971 Mannheimer Kunstverein

1971 Gallery M, Bochum

1972 Otto Stangl Gallery, Munich

1973 State Gallery of Modern Art, Munich Gallery Stangl, Munich

1973 Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe

1974 Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg

1975 Folkwang Museum, Essen

1976 Municipal Gallery Altes Theater, Ravensburg

1977 Kunstverein Freiburg

1977 Bocholt Art Museum

1977 Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus Munich

1978 Kunsthalle zu Kiel

1978 Gallery D+C Müller - Roth

1981 Municipal Gallery in an Empty Bag, Regensburg

1981 Hochrhein Art Association

1981 Trumpet Castle, Bad Söckingen

1981 Ulm Theatre

1981 Museums of the City of Regensburg

1982 Rupert Walser Gallery, Munich

1983 Reckermann Gallery, Cologne

1983 Gallery D+C Müller-Rot. stuttgart

1984 Municipal Art Gallery, Mannheim

1985 State Gallery of Modern Art, House of Art, Munich

1986 New National Gallery, Berlin

1986 Museum of Modern Art, Liechtenstein Palace, Vienna

1987 Rupert Walser Gallery, Munich

1989 Hans Strelow Gallery, Düsseldorf

1989 Freising Art Association

1989 Nuremberg Institute of Modern Art

1989 Gallery koe 24, Hanover

1990 Municipal Gallery in Lenbachhaus, Munich

1990 Wilhelm Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen

1990 Kunsthalle zu Kiel

1990 Lothringerstrasse 13

1990 Rupert Walser Gallery, Munich

1991 Gallery in the Ganserhaus, Wasserburg/In

1992 Kunsthalle Dominican Church and Museum of Art History, Osnabrück

1992 Dr. Luise Krohn, Badenweiler

1992 Piepenbrock group of companies, Osnabrück

1993 Kunstverein Reutlingen, Hans Thoma-Gesellschaft

1993 Kunstverein Reutlingen

1994 St. Wendel Museum, Mia Münster House

1994 Rupert Walser Gallery, Munich

1995 Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg Bauhütte Zeche Zollverein, Essen

1995 Morsbroich Castle Museum, Leverkusen

1995 Glaskasten Marl Sculpture Museum

1995 Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal

1995 Hans Strelow, Dusseldorf

1995 Bauhütte Zollverein Colliery, Essen

1996 Ruhr University Bochum

1996 Museum of Modern Art in the district of Cuxhaven

1998 Gallery of the Institute for Foreign Relations, Bonn

1998 Goethe-Institut Rome and Naples

1999 Spazio Zero, Palermo

1999 Goethe-Loft Lyon

1999 BWA Gallery, Wroclaw

1999 Polish Sculpture Exhibition Center, Oronsko

2000 Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje Museum of Fine Arts, Prague

2001 Mukhina (formerly Stieglitz Palace), St. Petersburg

2002 Kiallitahaza Gallery, Budapest

2005 Defekt Gallery, Nuremberg

2014 New Museum and Sculpture Garden, Nuremberg

2018 Catholic Academy in Bavaria, Munich

2018 LAprojects gallery, Landshut

2019 Nagel Draxler Gallery, Berlin

2019 Studienkirche St. Josef, Burghausen

2020 Heidelberg Sculpture Park, Heidelberg

2020 LAprojects gallery, Landshut

2021 McLaughlin Gallery, Berlin

2023 KönigMuseum, Landshut

Exhibitions at the Lechner Museum, Ingolstadt

2000 Alf Lechner, opening exhibition

2002 Nikolaus Koliusis | Alf Lechner, Iron Sea Blue

2003 Werner Haypeter | Alf Lechner

2004 Alf Lechner, sinking

2004 Alf Schuler | Alf Lechner

2005 Alf Lechner, Fire and Flame and Time Division

2006 Susanne Tunn, Pearls of Stone I Alf Lechner, Bizarre Surfaces

2007 Alf Lechner, cuts

2009 Alf Lechner, Poetry of Chance

2010 Alf Lechner, diagonal

2012 Alfons Lachauer | Alf Lechner, Colors over the Sea

2013 Alf Lechner, steel sculptures since 1960

2014 Alf Lechner, rust on steel - pencil on paper

2016 Alf Lechner, calots and fads

2017 Alf Lechner, Beginning and No End

2018 Alf Bachmann | Alf Lechner, Sky Water Steel

2018 Sigrid Neubert, Architecture and Nature I Alf Lechner, Labyrinth

2019 Hermann Nitsch, The Complete Work of Art

2019 Alf Lechner, emotionally rational

2020 Rupprecht Geiger and Alf Lechner, RotxStahl

2020 Braschler/ Fischer, DIVIDED WE STAND

2021 Now II, An Homage to Then — Now

2022 Susanne Tunn, Karft der Stille