Painter and printmaker Rudolf Hradil was born into an artistic family in Austria on 1 April 1925. His cultural education was severely impacted by the Anschluss (Nazi annexation of Austria) and after seeing service during the Second World War, he studied architecture at the Wiener Technik and attended evening life drawing classes. His exposure to French modernism at the Museum of Decorative Arts, Vienna in 1947, led to his studying painting, firstly, at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and then under Austrian expressionist Anton Kolig, prompting his adoption of bright colours and expressive forms. From 1951-53, he studied under Fernand Léger and began to explore his recurring theme of the urban landscape deprived of human presence. Impressed by Hradil’s lithographs, the head of the British Council in Vienna arranged his scholarship to the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London (1959–60), where he learnt etching, specialising in drypoint. His London etchings include: St Paul’s Cathedral, Escalator (1959), Tower Bridge and Underground (1960), and London Bridge (c.1959-60).
Afterwards, Hradil studied at the Austrian Cultural Institute in Rome in 1963, afterwards joining the Vienna Secession. His work reflected his travels within Europe and the USA, particularly, of cities. He was fascinated by the juxtaposition of historical buildings and modern infrastructures and technology. Encouraged by the Bauhaus artist Max Peiffer Watenphul, he also learnt watercolour painting and perfected the technique of colour lithography. He frequently exhibited in Salzburg (1964 onwards) and Vienna (1969 and 1988), won scholarships in Murnau and Frankfurt (1965) and Berlin (1986), and taught etching and watercolour painting at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg (1981, 1982, and 1984). He was awarded the Golden Badge of Merit of the State of Salzburg (1990), and the Coat of Arms of the City of Salzburg (2005).
Rudolf Hradil died in Vienna, Austria on 26 October 2007. His work is represented in the UK in the Ben Uri Collection, as well as the collections of the Albertina Museum, the Salzburg Museum and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung.