Emanuel Ehgartner | Minimal contemporary sculptor

emanuel ehgartner, john baldessari, creative process, wallboard, metal,
Emanuel Ehgartner | Foto by Marcus Heim

Emanuel Ehgartner | Minimal contemporary sculptor

Emanuel is a contemporary Austrian artist who studied art at the University of Applied Arts, in the photography department, the Transart department and finally in the Sculpture class of Hans Schabus. 

Emanuel started experimenting with analog film and photo paper and turned them into wall sculptures and installations.

In 2012 he was on a residence in Rotterdam and started to work with „classic“ sculptural material such as timber, steel, fabric, and concrete.

Who is Emanuel Ehgartner?

Emanuel Ehgartner is a contemporary Austrian sculptor. He studied art at the University of Applied Arts, in Vienna, in the photography department, in the  transart department and finally in the sculpture class of Hans Schabus. 

steel, choices, wall art, installation, sculptor, sculpture,
Caipirinha Piece | Varnish on steel | 80cm x 42cm x 13cm

Tell us a bit about yourself

My Name is Emanuel Ehgartner and I was born and raised in a very small village in upper Austria. I never had anything to do with art, unless you count being in a punk band as a kind of art. 

When I was about 18 years old, my grandfather gave me a very old analog camera – a Zeiss IKON. I started taking photographs and after graduating school I wanted to study photography in Vienna. 

contemporary, international, austrian, vienna, hans schabus,
Installation view THIS NOT THAT (2015) | Lenikus Studios | Vienna (AT)

I applied with nothing better than vacation pictures and close-ups from plants so it actually took me four times applying to finally get into the photography department. I always make this joke that the people at the university didn’t want to see me a fifth time applying ;)

university of applied arts, austrian artist, sculptures,
Cantilever (2020) | Wall object | Varnish, steel, plastic | 100cm x 40cm x 3cm

After the first years of my studies I realized very quickly that I needed to overcome traditional photography and decided to join the sculpture class for a semester. I started experimenting with analog film and photo paper and turned it into wall sculptures and installations.

installations, richard serra, john chamberlain,
Foto by Marcus Heim

In 2012 I was on a residence in Rotterdam with fellow students and started to work with „classic“ sculptural material such as timber, steel, fabric and concrete. By that time I was very influenced by Carl Andre – and you definitely see it in my works that time.

lawrence weiner, ellsworthy, kelly, blinky palermo,
Gasket (2018) | Varnish on steel | 97cm x 26cm x 2cm

In 2014 I graduated for the university with a diploma show on the topic functionality and aesthetics. So I basically got interested in everyday objects but not so much in a „Duchamp way“ using readymades. More in the sense that I examine objects from an industrial or architectural context for their sculptural qualities. 

online store, available, unique, original wall art, sculpture,
Iron wave (2017) | Steel, paint | 207cm x 37cm x3 3cm

This has become my main interests since the last 6 years and I am far away from running out out ideas. I am inspired by so many things in our everyday lives. I find a structure in the urban space or while traveling with the train and try to take a picture as a sketch. 

sketches, inspiration, color, etchings, welding, meuser,
Mercury (2021) | Varnish on steel | 120cm x 94cm x 3cm

In my studio I try to rebuild these structures (preferred material is steel), but reducing it to its very essence. 

So the outcome is a minimal sculpture or wall object which should raise questions like What distinguishes a sculpture from an everyday object?, Where is the threshold?, How can we re-think the urban space and the objects we find in it? Why do you pick the banana and not the apple? 

bill bollinger, carl andre, photography, camera, contemporary art,
Dark Knight (2017/2018) | Varnish on steel | 93cm x 19cm x 2cm

Did the environment you grew up in have an influence on your work?

On a subconscious level, maybe. I grew up in a small village with working class people. I sometimes think that I choose my materials in regard to understandability. Because everyone knows the structures I am using...

young art to collect, collectors, art exhibition, show, installations,
Rollercoaster (2020) | Varnish on steel | 157cm x 60cm x 4cm

When and how did you realize that you want to work as a sculptor?

Really tough question. Maybe it was around 2012 when I realized that I wanted to overcome traditional photography.

group show, spotlight, interview, story, emerging, spotlight,
Rollercoaster (2020) Close-up | Varnish on steel | 157cm x 60cm x 4cm

Which artists would you say have influenced you?

From a formal point of view my biggest influence are artists like Meuser, Bill Bollinger, Carl Andre, Richard Serra or John Chamberlain. 

But I read a lot of interviews and theoretical writings by Lawrence Weiner and John Baldessari. 

This two artist are definitely my idols! And then there artists like Ellsworthy Kelly or Blinky Palermo who I adore for their use of colors...

questions and answers, learn about, read more on the artist,
Installation view ASSORTED/MEASURED/COATED | VENT gallery | 2018 | Curated by Philipp Pess and Manuela Hillmann

Which is your favorite piece and why?

Probably A 36" X 36" REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALLBOARD FROM A WALL - by Lawrence Weiner. You see how you already start to construct the piece in your mind just by reading the words? Its wonderful...

punk, designers, music, technical objects, studio, inside,
Rhythm and Blues (2020)| Emanuel Ehgartner | Varnish on steel | 150cm x 50cm x 3cm | Desiderio Gallery

Where do you create? 

My studio is in the 20. district of Vienna - Brigittenau. I share it with a few guys - designers and musician, mostly. Its not a classic studio, more like a workshop...

artist, invitation, structure, transformation, every day things,
Tape 1 | Sculpture fabric tape, wrapping, foil, wood | 44cm x 2cm

What is your creative process? 

I can be inspired by almost everything: a construction site, a heavy machinery, a cantilever, mostly industrial and technical objects. First I take a picture as a sketch and in the studio I try to examine the structures and transform it into a minimal sculpture.

beautiful, minimalist, design, straight line, modern, actual,
Boulder piece (2020) |  Colored fabric tape on steel | Each 120cm x 12cm x 6cm

 Do you have a favorite quote

„If there is a bowl of fruit, why do you pick the banana and not the apple"? You just  have this intuitive sense over the years of making choices, and art-making essentially is that. You choose this thing over that thing. (...) You begin to develop a kind of instinct that I want that and not this."  John Baldessari
trend, wall, decor, interior, buy art online, discover explore,
Blu Le Mans (2021) | Steel, varnish, acrylic glass | 124cm x 116cm x 3cm

What is your relationship with social media?

I use instagram a lot since a greek friend suggested it to me in 2017. You can make quite a nice portfolio of your work as an artist. I post my artworks as well as sketches, inspirations and images of the working process.

young male artists, artsy, art fair, available, affordable art to collect
Installation view THIS NOT THAT (2015) | Lenikus Studios | Vienna (AT)


A big thank you to the wonderful Emanuel for sharing his work and his story with us. Artworks of the artist are available on our online store