Alfred Alexander Gockel (he goes by “Alex” but his given name is Alfred) was born in the coal mining town of Ludinghausen, Germany in 1952. Gockel’s first work was published when he was only eight years old. He planned to become an engineer but at the age of 16 Gockel began to work in the German coal mines at 700 meters deep. When the mining industry experienced a downturn, many of the town’s inhabitants were left without jobs. The struggle that Gockel felt at this time continues to affect his artwork today.
“I like to touch the viewer’s soul with my vibrant colors,” Gockel has said. “Often in my paintings I use elements that reflect my challenging past, when as a boy I worked in the coal mines. But my purpose is to express my joy in life and to show that we can overcome many obstacles through the expressions of life’s beauties.” Gockel’s experience in the coal mines is a major reason why he uses self-prepared tar in his own acrylics.
After spending more than two years in the army, Gockel refocused his attention on the arts and in 1973 he enrolled at the Polytechnic Academy in Munster, Germany. There, Gockel studied art and design and learned the techniques of lithography and silk-screening. Upon graduation, Gockel taught graphic design and typography at the academy. In the early 1980s, he decided to focus on his art full-time and in 1983 he and his wife Ingrid founded an art publishing company, Avant Art, which is now a top ranked player in the abstract segment of the market with customers in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Since 1987, the porcelain, carpet, and sportswear industries have made use of his design work. He purchased a mill in 1988 which he uses as a center for graphic printing (serigraphy and etching), thereby expanding his artistic scope. As a result of international recognition, distribution points and studios were established in London and Connecticut in 1990.
During his travels, Gockel had the pleasure of meeting Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró, great sources of artistic inspiration. He is also inspired by Kandinsky, Chagall, and Picasso, and he can’t forget the works of Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollock.
From his humble beginnings, Gockel has become one of the most prolific distributors of modern art lithographs and serigraphs in the world. With expressive use of rich, primary colors, Gockel has created an exceptional style that is undeniably unique.
“Art both influences culture and imitates it,” Gockel has said. “I am influenced by the colors, symbols, textures, fibers, and designs used by different cultures around the world.” His fluid strokes on large white canvas backgrounds, done in the manner of “action painting”, have a tremendous universal appeal. Since 1983, more than one hundred million open-editions of his work have been sold internationally, including serigraphs and other limited edition graphic works. In 2008, he founded the art group Quadriga, producing woodcut and linoleum etchings and lithographs.
This incredible exposure has created a demand for the artist’s original works and has generated high profile collectors like Michael Jordan and Richard Barry. Gockel was also commissioned by the United States Olympic Committee to create an official piece of artwork for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy. Recently, he was involved in the 2010 European Capital of Culture: “Essen for the Ruhr”, producing a sculpture honoring coal miners, 4.5m high.
In 2011, Alfred produced a Cortensteel sculpture for the ADAC (German Car Assistance Company) of eight angels carrying a yellow helicopter. It was placed strategically at the intersection of highways A1 and A2, near Kamen, Ruhrgebiet, visible to millions of German travelers. He also designed the official logo and trophy for the German Art Trade award in 2011. In 2012, Gockel started a series titled, “News from Hell”, describing our dreams between Hell and Heaven, religion and vision.
Over the last decade, Gockel has enjoyed producing sculptures in bronze, silver alloy, acrylic, aluminum, and steel, participating in expositions in New York, Boston, Dublin, Madrid, Cannes, Essen, Karlsruhe, Duisburg, Bern, Athens, Innsbrück, Salzburg, Lisbon, Belgium and The Netherlands. Today, Gockel continues to participate in exhibitions and live painting performances in USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and France. Always active, in his “spare time” Gockel plays tennis, walks in the German forests with his two dogs, or rides Harley Davidson motorcycles with his wife. They enjoy spending time at their favorite spot at the island Sylt.