Brigitte Kowanz was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1957. She studied at the University (then College) of Applied Arts in Vienna from 1976 to 1980. From 1997 to 2021 she was professor of "Transmedial Art" at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
In 1984, her work was presented internationally as part of the Aperto of the Venice Biennale, Italy. Solo exhibitions dedicated to her include 1993 Wiener Secession, 2007 Kunsthalle Krems, 2010 Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (mumok) and 2011 Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck. She has participated in numerous group and major events, including the 1987 Biennale in São Paolo, Brazil and the 1990 Biennale in Sydney, Australia. In 2017, she represented Austria with a contribution to the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 1989, she received the Otto Mauer Prize, in 1991 the City of Vienna Prize for Fine Arts, and in 1996 the Austrian Art Prize for Fine Arts. In 2009 Brigitte Kowanz was awarded the Grand Austrian State Prize. In 2009 she was honored with the Grand Austrian State Prize for Visual Arts, in 2018 with the German Light Art Prize and in 2019 with the Prize of the Biennale in Cairo, Egypt. Brigitte Kowanz lived and worked in Vienna, where she died in 2022. In 2023, the artist was posthumously awarded the Ring of Honor of the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
After a brief involvement with painting in the early 1980s, the artist became fascinated by the phenomenon of light, which became her central artistic tool. Her exploration was not exhausted in the material light in its lucid aesthetics. Her artistic interest was directed towards the intermediality that can be created by light. The artist sometimes supplemented light and shadow phenomena with mirror surfaces, with which she transformed her objects and installations into fascinating light productions. The exploration of language and the integration of word levels added a poetic dimension to her work.
Brigitte Kowanz's works reflect reality and virtuality in an unmistakable way in the intertwining of light, shadow and self-referential reflection. The indifference that results from the reciprocity of their condition sometimes seems to suspend concrete classifications. In the Generali Foundation Collection - on permanent loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg - are two early and remarkable light installations by the artist that are seminal to her later work.