Günther Schützenhöfer Austrian, b. 1965


Günther Schützenhöfer is one of the twelve creative residents in the House of Artists on the outskirts of Vienna (see p. 143). Born in Mödling, Austria, he lived in various other care facilities before arriving at age thirty-four at Gugging in 1999. His daily routine includes at least one visit to his spot at a massive table covered with art supplies in the office of Nina Katschnig, the director of the Galerie Gugging, where he draws undisturbed, producing at least one work per day.

“During the first years,” writes Katschnig,

he worked very cautiously, and mostly in small formats; over time, the formats grew larger, and his very fine lines gave way to strong, determined strokes. . . . [He] works in pencil and colored pencils on paper and cardboard. Before putting his pencil to paper, he rolls it back and forth between his thumb and forefinger until he gets a really good grip. He sketches out his theme in a few lines, then uses strong strokes to bring it to life. He likes to fill large areas in pencil, giving them a fascinating life of their own. Sometimes he applies so much pressure that the lead of his pencil cracks and breaks; for this reason he keeps at least 5 sharpened pencils next to him, and once he has used them all, grabs any other pencils lying around on the table. This constant change in pencils with different hardness grades and the varying amount of pressure he applies while drawing result in idiosyncratic shadings, which make his works exciting and alive. Sparingly and skillfully he places additional accents in colored pencil.

Schützenhöfer chooses his themes spontaneously, often related to the current season or situation. Lately, he repeatedly asks for a printout of his motif—be it a TV set, a radio, a lawn mower or the Eiffel Tower—to serve him as a template. But then he only glances briefly at the image, says, “Yes, I know,” and commences his work. His approach is particular and entirely focused on the essence, the gist of his theme. Limiting himself to the vital elements, he produces abstract drawings that are unique in their overall elegance.

Over the past 15 years . . . [he] has developed his unique, unmistakable style, which never ceases to amaze the onlooker. With his view of things around him, portrayed stylized and devoid of perspective, he creates enigmatic drawings, pervaded by [his] subtle humor. He is a great illustrator and interpreter of his surroundings, a world he very much enjoys living in, he says.

Schützenhöfer’s works have been exhibited worldwide since 2001 and are part of the Lower Austria Regional Collection, the Museum of Everything (London), and the Peter Infeld Private Foundation and the Arnulf Rainer Collection (Vienna).