Alf Lechner was born in Munich on April 17, 1925, the only son of middle-class parents. He began his career as an artist in 1940 with the landscape and marine painter Alf Bachmann, who taught him to paint in oils and pastels in Munich and on Lake Starnberg. After graduating from high school and serving in the Navy, Lechner continued his studies with Alf Bachmann in 1946. In 1948, Lechner began an apprenticeship as a locksmith, after which he founded the company Litema (lighting technology and metalworking) and patented his own inventions. Among other things, he designed surgical lights for dentists. He also worked successfully as a commercial artist and built trade fair stands.
Alf Lechner's works became known to a wider public from the 1960s onwards. Subsequently, he was present with exhibitions in all major museums of contemporary art in Germany and received numerous awards. Renowned art historians such as Prof. Dr. Dieter Honisch and Prof. Dr. Armin Zweite have dedicated studies to him. His works are represented in the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Vienna, the Lenbachhaus, Munich and the Zeche Zollverein, Essen, among others.
In 1962, Lechner moved with his family to Degerndorf on Lake Starnberg, sold his company Litema and realized his dream: to devote his life entirely to art. It was here that he created his first steel sculptures. In 1968 his first exhibition took place in the Heseler Gallery in Munich. In 1972 he was awarded the Förderpreis of the city of Munich and shortly afterwards the Arbeitsstipendium of the Kulturkreis, which enabled him to produce large sculptures in the factory halls of the company Linde AG. He was awarded the Art Prize of the Academy of Arts in Berlin in 1974, which was followed by exhibitions in all important museums of contemporary art in Germany, such as the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich, the Kunsthalle zu Kiel, the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, as well as beyond the country's borders, such as the Museum Moderner Kunst, the Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna, and in Tokyo.
In 1979 he won first prize in the "Dimension 79" competition for contemporary sculpture organized by Philip Morris GmbH. The acquisition and conversion of a disused industrial building into a home and studio in Geretsried in Upper Bavaria allowed him to open up new production possibilities for large sculptures. His first sculpture park was created in the vicinity of the studio. Important trips to Saudi Arabia and Japan brought him his first international commission, namely to develop two sculptures for King Saud University in Riyadh.
In 1988 Lechner won first prize in the competition "City Sculptor in the City Park Schloss Philippsruhe" Hanau. In 1990 he was awarded the medal "Munich shines" in gold by the City of Munich. 1990-1991 Alf Lechner was honorary professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 1991 he was awarded the Critics' Prize for Fine Art by the Association of German Critics in Berlin and the following year he was awarded the "Piepenbrock Prize for Sculpture". In 1994 he was guest of honor at the Villa Massimo in Rome for two months before being appointed a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1995. From 1998 to 2002, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) presented a special exhibition of sculptures and graphic works by Alf Lechner in a total of eleven galleries/museums in Germany, Italy, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, and Hungary.
In 1999, he established the Alf Lechner Foundation, based in Obereichstätt, before the Alf Lechner Museum was ceremoniously opened in Ingolstadt in 2000. In the same year, he received the Friedrich Bauer Prize for Fine Arts. In 2001, he and his wife Camilla moved from Geretsried to the former Royal Bavarian Ironworks in Obereichstätt, where he created a sculpture park on the site, which covers more than 23,000 square meters.
Alf Lechner was awarded the First Class Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2002, and in 2008 he received the Bavarian Constitutional Medal in Gold. In 2010 the Paper House in the Lechner Sculpture Park was opened, and in 2013 the large exhibition hall in the Lechner Sculpture Park was inaugurated. His important and multifaceted œuvre includes more than 800 sculptures, a multiple of models and more than 4500 drawings, some of them in large format, as well as pastels and oil paintings from his youth. Alf Lechner is today considered one of the most important steel sculptors of the 20th century. He died on February 25, 2017 in Obereichstätt.