WHEN PROFESSIONALISM, THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE, THE COLLECTOR’S BUG, RISKTAKING, AND AN EXCESS OF SOCIAL SKILLS ARE FOUND IN ONE SINGLE PERSON, THE FIRST NAME TO POP UP IS THAT OF GÜNTHER STECHER, A LITHOGRAPHER WHO NOW RESIDES IN THE TIROLEAN OBERLAND REGION.
Following in the footsteps of his father (a successful book printer for the Tyrolia publishing house) he started training in 1967 as a lithographer at the Alpina printing works. Some would consider this time unfortunate to make one’s first experiences, considering the change from paper to digitalisation and offset printing. However, the passion of both his teachers, Rudolf Lechleitner and Hubert Öfner, made up for this. In 1979, Günther Stecher had the audacity to become a freelance graphic artist with his wife Anneliese by his side. The brave ambition paid off, as the company is still around and is run successfully with his son Clemens. Thirst for knowledge combines with the artist’s unimaginable passion for collecting and is what motivated the father of three to take up the long-discarded art of lithography.
Well-known artists swarmed to the lithography workshop over the course of the years and made this venue to a mecca of an art that had nearly been consigned to the history books.
Hoarding printers and machines, but most of all his love for Solhof limestone, an essential ingredient in lithography, took hold of him, motivating him to make lithographic art and apply for a course in Urbino, Italy. After having completed his studies and now in charge of his own career, Günther Stecher signed up to register for his licence in 1984. The justifiability to exercise the profession of lithographer brought him the success of being one of the few commercial lithographers today. Thanks to the support of his father Walter and his long-standing experience as a book, gravure, and offset printer, came the first timid attempts with the assistance of Professor Heinrich Tilly, an artist open to experimentation who just happened to live nearby. After a year of successful tests, probes, and analyses, he started reeling in the first successes.
Renowned people with good connections to the artistic circles and the Landecker Galerie Elefant were the first admirers and supporters of Stecher. Many of them also became family friends due to their professionalism and the personable and social art and approach of the household. Chryseldis Hofer-Mitterer, whose early expressive art is based on both lines and refined colours, can be considered one of the first renowned. In the wake of her success, the most renowned artists, especially drawers, painters, and etchers the likes of Paul Flora, Herbert Danler, Anton Christian, Robert Scherer, Elmar Kopp, Patricia Karg, Nino Malfatti, Gustav Stimpfl but also sculptors such as Walter Nagl, Jos Pirkner and Franz Pöhacker and many more came to the workshop. The success of the established artists ensures entrepreneur Günther Stecher never forgets the younger generations by always promoting rising stars, commissioning work at decent prices. He scouts talent and at the same time removes the ‘fear’ they have for the Solnhof limestone.
Next to the perfect working conditions and sensational lithographic results, let’s just think of the last work by Nino Malfatti. Indeed, the Stecher household is also known for its social engagement. The whole family deserves all the praise, recognition and gratitude it gets. The now legendary Benefiz fest in Affenhausen has become an essential part of the Tyrolean cultural programme since 2004. It’s a party where the Stecher family invites everyone, opens its doors, gives food and drink and provides entertainment for its guests, never forgetting that there are many people who need the help of others. For years now the good cooperation with successful artists hasyielded fruit. Every year Günther Stecher ‘wins’ one of them, and they contribute to his Benefiz lithography publication. 125 signed and numbered pages are sold every year (in 2017 it was Franz Mölk) and proceeds go to the Tiroler Frauenhauses and Frauen helfen Frauen initiatives. Everyone feels like they’ve achieved big: sharing is caring, even when it comes to art.