DescriptionCHARLES UMLAUF (American, 1911-1994)
12 x 8-3/4 x 4-1/2 inches (30.5 x 22.2 x 11.4 cm)
Signed on base: C. Umlauf
One of the premier sculptors in Texas in the second half of the 20th century, Charles Umlauf's sculptures range in style from realism and abstract expressionism to lyrical abstraction. Born in South Haven, Michigan, to German immigrant parents, Umlauf studied at the Chicago School of Sculpture and the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) under Albin Polasek. Beginning about 1932, Umlauf worked at various jobs in Chicago before becoming an assistant to another famed Chicago sculptor, Lorado Taft. Returning to the AIC, where he remained until 1937, Umlauf did sculpture commissions for public buildings for the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP). Umlauf moved to Austin, Texas, in 1941 with his family where he taught for 40 years in the new art department of the University of Texas. Fellow faculty included Ward Lockwood, William Lester, Constance Forsyth, and Everett Spruce. From 1960 until 1991, he personally supervised the casting of his sculptures at various foundries in Italy. His sculptures are found in public collections across the United States. These include the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Witte Museum; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Smithsonian Institution; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During his career, Umlauf was presented nearly every professional award, including both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Grant. In Texas, he was honored in 1985 by the Houston Art League as "Texas Artist of the Year" and in 1993 by the City of San Antonio as "Alcalde." In 1985, he and his wife, Angeline Allen Umlauf, gave their home and studio with sculptures, drawings, and paintings to the city of Austin. Today the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum is a destination site for lovers of sculpture.
Umlauf began to explore spirituality-especially Judeo-Christianity-in his sculpture before he left Chicago. Consequently, he was one of very few Texas artists bold enough to make spirituality a significant segment of his oeuvre. Supplication speaks directly to the surrender of human beings to a Higher Power and the appeal for succor from an Almighty in humanity's struggles. Notwithstanding the spiritual angst of Supplication, it is a very powerful example of figure sculpture.
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