Artist talk

Gottfried Bechtold in conversation with Claus Philipp. Photo: Dario Punales

February 21, 2013, 7 p.m. (German)
Gottfried Bechtold, Artist, in conversation with Claus Philipp, Film critic 


Gottfried Bechtold will talk about his films—most of them are in the Generali Founadation collection—as well as about the general conceptual approach in his work. Starting out as a sculptor, Bechtold became influenced by Post-minimal art, Land art, and Conceptual art. During the late 1960s he began working in a great variety of different media including photography, film, and video, focusing his analytic interest on their specific qualities as systems of communication. While his film work was still largely dominated by a process of translating the sign elements of language into cinematic terms, his videos, created from 1970–73, indicated a much greater involvement with the examination of the specific reality defined by the medium of video, which was new at the time. The speculative and experimental character of his works which often bore a similarity to the way laboratory test series are set up, was also maintained in his “Video-Installation” (1972) and the work he realized at the documenta 5 in Kassel (1972),”A 100 Days' Presence at Kassel”. In addition to such largely conceptual approaches, Bechtold has repeatedly engaged in efforts to expand the classic concept of sculpture. His installations in public space he developed after intense immersion in the specific realities of a given site, Bechtold also integrates the elements of time and space and the immaterial medium of light. His "Intercontinental Sculpture" (1986) for the Vienna International Center, for example, is composed of monoliths taken from five continents and joined by a laser beam. It continually changes over the course of the day.


Gottfried Bechtold was born in 1947 in Bregenz, and lives and works in Hörbranz, (Vorarlberg), Austria. His apprenticeship as a stonemason in Hallein was followed by stays in Great Britain, the United States, and Canada; for example as Visiting Artist at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax in 1973/74. During this time, Bechtold collaborated with Paul Watzlawick, a communication scientist at Stanford University. He has been a visiting professor both in Austria and abroad, (Cornell University, Ithaca/U.S.; Karl-Franzens-University, Graz. Bechtold had numerous solo shows, 1993 in der Neuen Galerie Graz, 1996 in der Kunsthalle Wien, 2001 im Magazin 4 Bregenzer Kunstverein, 2006 im Kunsthaus Bregenz und 2007 in der Fotogalerie Wien. Er hat an der Documenta 5 (1972) teilgenommen. 1999 wurde Bechtold mit dem internationalen Kunstpreis des Landes Vorarlberg ausgezeichnet, 2009 mit dem Österreichischen Würdigungspreis für Video- und Medienkunst des BMUKK.


Claus Philipp is a culture journalist and film critic and headed the culture pages of the daily paper "Der Standard" for many years. Since 2008, he has directed the cinema and movie rental programming at Stadtkino Wien. He also curated the DVD series "Der österreichische Film," an anthology of Austrian film. He has written books about Christoph Schlingensief and Alexander Kluge and, most recently, coedited an extensive and richly illustrated volume on Ulrich Seidel's PARADIES movie trilogy.