Life and work

* 1938, July 29


From the beginning, Heinrich Reisenbauer drew very controlled,” orderly groupings of identical subjects: people or animals. Initially he worked only with pencils and colored pencils on small sheets of paper; in the nineties he extended his spectrum to include large-format pieces of paper and canvasses, which he worked on with lightfast markers, brushes, and acrylic paints. Reisenbauer is not a painter; instead, he colors his drawings, in which the mostly black contours remain preserved, and he fills in the individual simple shapes. His works are typified not by a subject matter but by the serial repetition of a subject on the same sheet or on the same canvas. However, this repetition is not that of a Pop artist like Andy Warhol, who varies colors among identical forms; instead, Reisenbauer draws every element multiple times in extremely diverse, but nonetheless similar forms, resulting in a very vivacious composition. An artistic oeuvre has rarely been as identical with its creator as in the case of Reisenbauer.


Heinrich Reisenbauer was born on July 29, 1938, and grew up on a farm in southern Lower Austria, near Wiener Neustadt. As a good student, he went to the Gymnasium (advanced, upper-level secondary school), and he helped out on his parents’ farm in the summer months. Socially, however, he was an outsider and had very little contact with his peers. Before completing secondary school, Reisenbauer had an acute psychotic episode and was admitted to the psychiatric center in Gugging for this reason in 1956. He became withdrawn there and hardly spoke a word for years. He switched departments several times within the facility until, in 1986, he was invited to the House of Artists by the author, because the drawings Reisenbauer made at his request showed talent and were remarkable for their rigorous arrangement.

He adapted well to the House of Artists and began drawing regularly, leading to success within Austria and internationally within just a few years. Although Reisenbauer displays few outward signs of emotion, he is very interested in what goes on around him and he enjoys travelling to his exhibitions, where he likes to patrol alongside his works with a stoic expression.

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