Throughout his working life, Fritz Wotruba (1907-1975) had numerous prestigious exhibitions in Europe and the USA and also held the influential position of Professor of Sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Vienna. He is acknowledged as one of Austria’s most eminent 20th century artists and counted among his friends and colleagues many of the prominent men of his time, including Aristide Maillol, Alberto Giacometti, Marino Marini, the architect Josef Hoffman, Henry Moore and Nobel Prize winning author Elias Canetti, who wrote his monograph in 1955.
Works in the exhibition included stones, bronzes, drawings and theatre and architectural models. These illustrated the range of Wotruba’s sculpture: heavy romanticism; a highly personal response to Cubism and Primitivism; sensitively modeled and pinched clay and cast pieces – all concentrating on the human figure standing, sitting, reclining and walking. Wotruba’s designs and models clearly relate to the architectonic and more highly abstracted sculptures of the 1960s and 1970s, which are rooted in the geometric language of Constructivism and de Stijl.
In his deliberately impersonal sculptures there is an absolute confidence and singularity of purpose and, not withstanding Wotruba’s reputation as a hard, sometimes ruthless man, they reveal his great passion, earthiness and quest for simplicity.