Stephan Hess aka "Stephan" was born in Munich, Germany in 1951 and grew up there, in Washington D.C. and in Frankfurt, where he studied at J.W. v. Goethe University. Later he moved to New York, London and Salzburg.
Since his childhood, he has always signed his works only with ‘Stephan’; he is therefore often known by his first name only. His contribution to modern art spans over more than five decades. Stephan's different subjects and series possibly define his evolvement and biography better than any events or locations.
In his teens Stephan developed his own style of rudimentary stick figures with pronounced extremities and sexuality. He mounted his first stage design at the age of fourteen. During his studies, he designed stages for experimental theatre groups. His inclination for experimentation is evidenced through his land-art, as well as conceptual and performance art endeavours in the early seventies and eighties.
At the same time Stephan created a series of collages, at first primarily monochrome, later adding colours to his works. He also developed new techniques in etching and lithographic prints and such as painting over photo collages. His works - which he occasionally refers to as his traces - include drawings and collage elements, oil and acrylic paintings.
His work is often defined by distinct “series” or “periods” which he has given memorable names, e. g. "running ink", "circular motions", "multi-unit-dwellings", “printed matters” or "zebra maps". The “Untersberg series” takes its inspiration from a mountain massif near Stephan’s Salzburg studio. His "message boards" which deliver short phrases hidden in colourful text-like structures are widely collected. These series are all an example of his tracing important developments of the times.
Stephan's series of "wiremen", crafted from industrially made wire-hangers, are often considered to be one of his signature pieces. He has created many other acclaimed and highly recognisable sculptures over the years. His constant return to the most basic visual expressions sets him apart as a painter, a sculptor and as an artist.
Stephan's work can be found in numerous important national and international private collections. His name is best known among a growing circle of carefully cultivated connoisseurs.