Alfred Alexander Gockel (he goes by Alex but his given name is "Alfred") was born in the coal mining town of Ludinghausen, Germany in 1952. Gockel's first work was published when he was only eight years old. He planned to become an engineer but at the age of 16 Gockel began to work in the German coal mines. When the mining industry experienced a downturn, many of the town's inhabitants were left without jobs. The struggle that Gockel felt at this time continues to effect his artwork today. “I like to touch the viewer's soul with my vibrant colors,” Gockel has said. “Often in my paintings I use elements that reflect my challenging past, when as a boy I worked in the coal mines. But my purpose is to express my joy in life, and to show that we can overcome many obstacles through the expressions of life's beauties.”
After spending more than two years in the army, Gockel refocused his attention on the arts and in 1973, he enrolled at the Polytechnic Academy in Munster, Germany. There Gockel studied art and design and learned the techniques of lithography and silk-screening. Upon graduation, Gockel taught graphic design and typography at the academy. In the early 1980s Gockel decided to focus on his art full-time. In 1983 he and his wife Ingrid founded an art publishing company; Avant Art, today a top ranked player in the abstract segment of the market, with customers in more than 50 countries worldwide.
From his humble beginnings, Gockel has become one of the most prolific distributors of modern art posters in the world. Some estimates put sales at over 10 million worldwide, they can be seen in design studios and private and corporate businesses worldwide. Gockel, was commissioned by the United States Olympic committee to create an official piece of artwork for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Gockel's unique style – boldly colored abstract images lined in thick black against a white canvas – has become his signature. “Art both influences culture and imitates it,” Gockel has said. “I am influenced by the colors, symbols, textures, fibers and designs used by different cultures around the world.”
Always active, in his "spare time" Gockel plays tennis, walks in the German forests with his two dogs, or rides Harley Davidson motorcycles with his wife. They enjoy spending time at their favorite spot at the island Sylt.