Ernst Caramelle was born in 1952 in Hall in Tyrol, Austria. He studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna from 1970 to 1976, among others with Oswald Oberhuber. In 1974 he was a Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1981 to 1983 he taught at the Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main and from 1986 to 1990 at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. In 1992 he participated in Documenta IX in Kassel. Since 1994 he was professor and from 2012 to 2018 rector at the Kunstakademie Karlsruhe. In 2001 he was awarded the Tyrolean State Prize for Art. Ernst Caramelle lives in Karlsruhe, Frankfurt am Main and New York.
"Ideas. Ernst Caramelle" can be read above a shop window in the City of Vienna ever since an exhibition of art in public space in 1988. Caramelle’s artistic approach stands in the tradition of concept art, which considers the idea as equal to the artistic product, whether realized or not. On the occasion of the "IV. International Painters’ Weeks" in Graz in 1974 he began working with video and in his typically ironic way created a series of works entitled “Videoperformances, which are documented as Videolandscapes. He expanded his involvement with this medium that same year as "Research Fellow" at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. There he evolved the installation "Video Ping-Pong" (1974), an icon of early video art, which represents Caramelle’ s critical approach to reality and the reality of the media, as do his other video works from this time.
Caramelle is also known for his subtle handling of the medium of drawing, in which he emphasizes its inconspicuousness and simplicity. In doing so, he was able to prove that a career and corresponding growth as an artist can be achieved equally well without extravagant gestures. Questions relating to artistic careers have repeatedly figured in his work. In "Forty Found Fakes", a publication issued in New York in 1979, Caramelle took newspaper clippings he had collected and presented them as reproductions of works by renowned artists.
Since the eighties he has involved himself in mural painting, as he did also on the occasion of his participation in Documenta IX 1992 in Kassel. With the so-called Gesso Pieces, paperworks partly washed with watercolor (which the artist also calls "Quasi-Paintings"), he questions the representational character of this media. (Sabine Breitwieser, Doris Leutgeb)