Manfred Wakolbinger was born in 1952 in Mitterkirchen, Upper Austria, Austria. Wakolbinger is a trained toolmaker. He graduated from the Technical College for Metalworking and Toolmaking in Steyr in 1972. Initially, he worked as an industrial fitter in Berlin and moved to Vienna in 1975. Here he began to work sculpturally as an autodidact and attended lectures and seminars by Bazon Brock at the University (then College) of Applied Arts, Vienna. Since the late 1980s, Wakolbinger has worked photographically with a special interest in underwater photographs of deep-sea creatures taken on diving trips around the world. Later, videos were added to his work.
Wakolbinger has participated internationally in numerous major and group exhibitions, including 1984 Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, 1985 Trigon '85 steirischer Herbst, Graz, 1986 Kunsternes Hus, Oslo, Norway; Mücsarnok, Budapest, Hungary, 1987 Museum van de Hedendaagse Kunst, Gent, Belgium; documenta 8, Kassel, Germany, 1990 Secession, Vienna, 1991 Musée d'Art Contemporain, Lyon, France, 1988 Städtische Kunsthalle and Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, 1992 Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany; The Nordic Arts Center, Helsinki, Finland; Tallin Art Hall, Tallin, Estonia, 1993 45. Biennale di Venezia, Italy; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Palais Liechtenstein, Vienna, 1995 Fundation "La Caixa", Barcelona, Spain,1997 Denver Art Museum, Denver, USA, 2003 Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, 2011 Lentos Museum, Linz, 2014 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA, 2019 and 2020 Kunsthaus Mürz, Mürzzuschlag, Styria.
Solo exhibitions dedicated to the artist include 1983 Forum Stadtpark, Graz, 1989 Künstlerhaus and Kunstverein Salzburg, 1997 Museum moderner Kunst (20er Haus), Vienna, 2000 Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK) Vienna, 2019 Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig (MdbK), Leipzig, Germany, 2022 Blickle Kino, Belvedere 21, Vienna.
In 1992 he was awarded the City of Vienna Prize for Visual Arts. Manfred Wakolbinger lives and works in Vienna and Münchendorf, Lower Austria.