From first artistic steps to JOSATI
The first artistic steps // Josef Hirthammer was born in Bad Reichenhall in 1951. His family had built up a small food production business in the post-war years. In a purely economically oriented parental home, he had no contact with art. At the age of 16 he met the painter Hermann Ober - her father - through a classmate. He was immediately fascinated by this personality and his art. During frequent visits to his studio at the Salzburg Kunstverein, Josef Hirthammer made his first prints in the technique of linocut. Soon he wandered through all the studios and thus became acquainted with the most diverse art movements of the time. After graduating from high school and completing his military service, he moved to Munich as a young married man to study art.
The years of study // During his studies he got to know and love the works of the painters Ernst Fuchs, Karl Korab and Friedrich Meckseper and created numerous small paintings and intaglio prints in their technique and representation. The paintings of Horst Janssen exerted a further fascination on the student Hirthammer. He himself developed a representation of his paintings combined from all facets of these models. As his favorite compositional feature, he often used the series. First exhibitions in small galleries in Munich enabled him to finance his studies without any problems. While still a student, Josef Hirthammer founded a gallery with a good friend, but it was closed after a short time because its co-owner was heavily in debt and wanted to burden him with it. By court order, he got out of this business relationship without much damage.
The artist group Zeichen // At the end of the 1970s, Hirthammer created numerous objects with found materials. At that time, he described himself as a "trace seeker." Together with Karol Hurec, Klaus Neuper and Jürgen Schehak he founded the group Zeichen in 1980. For a few years they worked intensively together, made several exhibitions, which, however, remained relatively unsuccessful. In 1978 Josef Hirthammer begins to deal intensively with the everyday object tea bag. As a result, a variety of objects and sculptures are created with this disposable object. Delicate drawings of objects formed with many tea bags strung together to oversized tea bags made of copper were exhibited at the legendary Gallery Studio F in Stuttgart. Installations and object boxes with a wide variety of found objects were created during these few years.
Basel and his contemporaries // In 1982 Josef Hirthammer made a radical break in his art. From then on he dealt with his contemporaries. Large-format paintings and wax crayon drawings were always created with the motif of man. With portraits of "cool" women and men, as they were to be found in typical in-scenes in every big city, he daringly documented the zeitgeist of those years with just a few brushstrokes. In the following years his name became a synonym for time-critical, figurative and striking paintings of his fellow men. Undoubtedly, for the artist it was both a reappraisal and a persiflage of a society and way of life that was getting more and more out of hand. His paintings and drawings were presented for years as a one-man show at Art Basel and made him a sought-after young artist of his time. During these years he met the Swiss gallery owner, curator and collector Jean Kämpf. This developed into a long-lasting intense friendship and a close economic collaboration.
Natural Pan-Sensualism // Also in the same year, Josef Hirthammer ideologically devoted himself to art with and in nature. First works of his now following art creation - the nature art - emerge. However, he did not go public with it until the beginning of the 1990s. In 1987 he developed his large-scale project Naturschach, an artistic formulation of the global human intervention in nature through architecture. Also in this year, he formulated his nature project Skinning. He took pieces of meadow measuring 30 cm x 30 cm from the ground and cast them in acrylic. He skinned the earth and sealed the open wounds with dadoed and signed aluminum plates. Josef Hirthammer presented his new art - natural pan-sensualism - to the public for the first time in an extensive exhibition in Solothurn, Switzerland in 1993. Many exhibitions, mainly in Switzerland and Germany, presented his natural art with objects, photography and painting in the following years.
In 1997 he realized his project "10 Cities". In each case 4 blue pieces of happy nature were sent as a donation to 10 German cities, combined with the wish to the respective cultural officers to present the donated objects in a joint exhibition. The transnational action was not completed in the end, because some cities did not participate. However, the donated art was accepted. Another highlight in his artistic work is the large-scale project Traces of Nature. In a traveling exhibition, Josef Hirthammer intends to set up 12 individual installations in German city centers, each occupying the downtown areas for 3 weeks. The elaborate execution has not yet been scheduled. In 2001 he went public with this project. In 2003 Josef Hirthammer created 20 installations in and with nature in the immediate vicinity of his home. He rearranged and restructured the existing chaos of nature. For days he collected blossoms, which were then orderly integrated into other places. These sometimes very laborious restructurings were and are of short duration. They are recorded photographically.
Pseudonym JOSATI // In 2007 Josef Hirthammer rediscovered older abstracted representations of man for himself and creates under the artist name Josef Josati, again a consistently new way of representing man. The human being is belittled, reduced to a comic figure in order to take away his supposed importance. Nevertheless, the themes are very socially critical, sometimes cynical and always political.
Josef Hirthammer deliberately defies categorization. His multifaceted work does not allow for classic pigeonholing. Diversity is his trademark. Painting, drawing, photography, digital painting, sculpture and installations are his design media. Stringently pursued diversity characterizes his multifaceted forms of expression and philosophies. He is considered one of the most versatile artists of our time and has created several thousand works of art in the 40 years of his artistic career.