After experimenting with cartoon animation as a child, he started making his first abstract experimental films while living in Paris from 1949 to 1959, a period during which he also showed paintings and kinetic sculptures at galleries such as the renowned Galerie Denise René. After highschool and community service in an institution for the mentally ill he went to Marburg to study art, music and media at Phillips Universitaet. One year later he changed to the Städelschule in Frankfurt. There he started working with 16mm film.
He began making performances and films in the UK in 1971, moving to New York in 1973. He has exhibited worldwide in museums and galleries, and is internationally famous for his 'Tree' films such as Trees lying around. For some years a cult figure of postmodern theory, Winkler moved beyond the postmodern discourse from the early 1980s to the present, and has developed a highly idiosyncratic mode of philosophical and cultural analysis. Anton Winkler is currently working in New York and Northwestern Connecticut.