Brigitte Kowanz

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Brigitte Kowanz (born 13 April 1957 in Vienna) is an Austrian artist. Kowanz studied from 1975 to 1980 at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She has been Professor of Transmedial Art there since 1997. Kowanz lives and works in Vienna.


Since the 1980s, Brigitte Kowanz's work has focused on the investigation of space and light. At the beginning of this period, between 1979 and 1984, she produced paper and screen images with phosphorescent and fluorescent pigments in collaboration with Franz Graf. From 1984, Kowanz developed her first light objects from bottles, fluorescent lamps and fluorescent paint. Complex spatial images and light-shadow-projections were created using the simplest of means. However, light is not only a material, but also often a topic of Kowanz's works. For example, she has been engaged with the speed of light in a personal complex of works since 1989. A very small decimal number in neon figures indicates the time that the light needs to cover the length of this sequence of numbers.[1] One complex of issues that Kowanz has also been engaged in since the 1980s is that of language and writing and its translation into codes. Light is investigated as a space-forming medium as well as an information carrier and medium of knowledge and visibility. Since 1995, Kowanz has also regularly used the morse alphabet – based on simple dash-dot combinations – for coding purposes. As a binary code, it represents the origin of the transfer of information using light.[2] Kowanz uses (semi-)transparent glasses and mirrors, especially in her newer works. This leads to a diverse overlaying of the virtual and the real in her three-dimensional objects. The mutual reflection of light, language and mirror (Rainer Fuchs) produces hybrid spaces whose boundaries seem to be clearly defined at one moment, but gone again the next. Real space and virtual reflection penetrate each other, the boundaries between artwork and observer become fluid. The occupation with the intangible physics of light, which – although a guarantee of visibility – is itself slightly overlooked, persists in the works of Brigitte Kowanz to this day.[3]


  • 1989 Otto Mauer Prize
  • 1991 Prize of the City of Vienna for Visual Arts
  • 1996 Austrian Art Prize for Visual Arts
  • 2009 Grand Austrian State Prize for Visual Arts
  • 2018 German Light Art Award
  • 2019 Cairo Biennale Prize

Exhibitions (selection)[edit]

Art in public space (selection)[edit]

Lünerseepark Bürs
  • 2014–2016 Light strip for the MQ-Libelle in Vienna's Museumsquartier, planned
  • 2010/2012 Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz
  • 2010/2011 Staatsbrücke bridge, Salzburg
  • 2009/2010 Volksbank AG, Vienna
  • 2007–2008 Museum Liaunig, Neuhaus
  • 2006–2007 Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster
  • 2003/2005 DKV, Cologne
  • 2003/2004 Regional Music School, Windischgarsten
  • 2001/2004 Jacob Burckhardt House, Basel
  • 2002/2004 LGT Liechtenstein, Vaduz
  • 2001 BUWOG, Vienna
  • 1999/2000 ARD Capital Studio, Berlin
  • 1999 Lünerseepark, Bürs
  • 1995/99 Peter Merian House, Bahnhof Ost railway station, Basel

Works in museums and public collections (selection)[edit]



Bibliography (selected)[edit]

  • Beate Ermacora; Gregor Jansen: Brigitte Kowanz – in light of light. Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst 2012. ISBN 978-3-86984-283-7
  • Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz: Think outside the box. Heidelberg: Verlag Das Wunderhorn 2011. ISBN 978-3-88423-388-7
  • Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. Now I See. Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst 2010. ISBN 978-3-86984-141-0
  • Agnes Husslein-Arco, Gerald Bast (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz: ad infinitum. Vienna: Belvedere 2008. ISBN 978-3-901508-42-4
  • Galleria Contemporaneo, Mestre (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. Dario De Bastiani Editore 2007. ISBN 978-88-8466-105-0
  • University of Applied Arts, Vienna (publ.): more L978T. Vienna 2006. ISBN 3-85211-131-5
  • Wolfgang Häusler (publ.): Another time another place, Brigitte Kowanz. Munich 2002. ISBN 3980849406
  • Wolfgang Häusler (publ.): Zeitlicht-Lichtraum, Brigitte Kowanz. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje-Cantz 2001. ISBN 978-3-7757-9108-3
  • University of Applied Arts, Vienna (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. Die Zwischenzeit vom Schattensprung belichten, Vienna 1998. ISBN 978-3852110646
  • Licht ist was man sieht. Brigitte Kowanz. Vienna: Triton Verlag 1997. ISBN 3-901310-77-0
  • Wiener Secession (publ.), Brigitte Kowanz. Vienna 1993. ISBN 3-900803-63-3

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Riccardo Caldura, Adherence, Relational Openness: Reflections on Artwork and Context, in: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. Now I See. Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst 2010, S. 226–232.
  2. ^ Christian Reder, Light = Measure = Form = Existence – On Brigitte Kowanz and working with codes, in: University of Applied Arts, Vienna (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. more L978T, Vienna, 2006, pp. 30–45.
  3. ^ Rainer Fuchs, Precision without Borders, in: Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (publ.): Brigitte Kowanz. Now I See. Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst 2010, S. 40–46.