life and work

1915, January 12 - 1986, August 2


In the seventies, when Rudolf Horacek was asked multiple times to draw a person, the Image usually remained limited to a head. Only very rarely did he draw an entire body. However, the heads had caught his interest. He began them with an egg-shaped circle, which he slowly filled up with lines, numbers, letters, or short phrases (mostly “Horacek in Mannswörth”).

The lines in the drawing created shapes, and Horacek then added hatching in these, often resulting in his covering up what he had previously written. The longer he worked on a sheet, the less remained visible beneath the layers of graphite. On the exceptional occasions when Horacek applied paint with a brush, everything underneath disappeared for good. This can be seen most clearly in his largest work, which he carried out on a primed wooden panel. The artist did not want any colored pencils of his own on his table; instead, he only wanted pencils, often with varying hardnesses. 
He also created a number of etchings and a small handful of “landscape drawings.” Horacek created only a small oeuvre consisting of a few hundred sheets, but it is extremely interesting and also clearly distinct from all others in the history of Art Brut as well as of great artistic value. The large-format panel painting mentioned above was made the logo of the museum gugging in 2006 because it is very characteristic for this artist and was also meant to symbolize this institution’s independence.


Rudolf Horacek was born near Vienna, in the town of Mannswörth, in 1915. For a few years, he was able to work as an unskilled laborer for a gardening company, but he became more and more reticent and withdrawn. In 1949, at the age of 24, he entered what was then the “Mental Health and Care Facility at Gugging.” He was a very calm client, who did not want to take part in any work or activities. He mostly sat to the side and watched what other People were doing. In 1979 he began to occasionally draw with the other clients, but only after being personally asked to do so. In 1981 Horacek moved to what would later be the House of Artists, where he died in 1986.

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