Gottfried Bechtold was born in 1947 in Bregenz, Austria. An apprenticeship as a stonemason in Hallein was followed by longer stays in Great Britain, the USA and Canada, among others as Visiting Artist at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada, from 1973 to 1974. During this time Bechtold worked with the communication scientist Paul Watzlawick at Stanford University. In 1999, he received the International Art Award of the Province of Vorarlberg. In 2009 he was awarded the Würdigungspreis für Video- und Medienkunst of the Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture. He has held visiting professorships at home and abroad (Cornell University, Ithaca, USA; Karl Franzens University, Graz). In the fall of 2016, Bechtold was honored with a comprehensive solo exhibition at Lentos Linz. He lives and works in Hörbranz, Vorarlberg, Austria.
Starting out as a sculptor, Bechtold became influenced by post-minimal art, land-art, and concept 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 "Concrete Porsche" (1971 and 2001), a cast taken of his own automobile, appears to have been defined by all the traditional determinants such as mass, weight, gravity, and form, yet it differs in both the unusual choice of material and subject matter. In his public realm installations 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.