Umlauf, Charles

Charles Umlauf

 (Am. 1911-1994)

Charles Julius Umlauf was born on a farm outside South Haven, Michigan, in 1911, the sixth of eight children born to French and German immigrant parents. When he was eight, the family moved to Chicago. Umlauf’s fourth grade teacher soon recognized his artistic talents and took him to the Art Institute of Chicago where he was given summer scholarships. After high school Umlauf studied at both the Art Institute and the Chicago School of Sculpture. In 1937, he married Angeline Allen, a fellow student at the Art Institute. During his career, Umlauf was awarded 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 1941, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where Charles had agreed to join the new art department at the University of Texas as a sculpture instructor. He taught there for 40 years, retiring as professor emeritus in 1981. Umlauf’s work can be seen in public collections and museums across the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. In Texas, there are more of his sculptures in public placements than work by any other single sculptor. In 1985, Charles and Angeline Umlauf gave their home, studio, and more than 200 pieces of Umlauf sculpture to the City of Austin. Six years later, in 1991, a new museum was built with private funds raised under the leadership of Austin arts patron Roberta Crenshaw. These included a generous matching challenge grant from the Meadows Foundation of Dallas. Umlauf was a prolific and internationally known sculptor and painter. Umlauf’s sculptures and paintings range from detailed realism to lyrical abstractions. His materials are equally diverse, from exotic woods and terra cotta or cast stone of his earlier pieces, to the rich bronzes and alabaster or luminous marbles of his prime. With equal facility, Umlauf sculpts and paints family groupings (particularly mothers and children), delightful animals, religious and mythological figures, and sensuous nudes.