Final Sale for Umlauf’s Art
Austin said goodbye to world-famous sculptor and resident Charles Umlauf when he died in 1994. But starting tomorrow, a final sale of the artist’s work will give the public a chance to own a piece of the artist’s legacy.
“Final Farewells,” the last sale of sculptor Charles Umlauf’s personal collection, will start tomorrow at the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery. Many of the paintings, drawings and sculptures are making their first appearance before the public. The sculptures, which Umlauf is best known for, range from realistic portraits of Farrah Fawcett, to craggy depictions of refugees from World War II, to abstract shapes. They are just as varied in material and size, including bronze, marble and limestone pieces that measure from 9 inches to 8 feet tall.
As a completely separate venture, the Umlauf family home is being acquired by the city of Austin. Charles and Angeline Umlauf bequeathed their property to the city in 1985 as part of their will. The property will become an extension of the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, which showcases over 130 pieces of the artist’s work.
Museum Director Nelie Plourde remembers Angie Umlauf, the woman behind the artist’s genius, who lived to be 97 and whose death in June is sorely felt.
“Umlauf was a prolific sculptor, but I think Angie was the grace in his life, the one that kept the family together,” Plourde said. “I can’t imagine that house without her. So we really want to make it the way it was when she lived there so vibrantly and with such an active family life.”
The family of eight was a close-knit one. Tom Umlauf remembers his father as a family man. And the sculptures of the Umlauf children that dot the grounds of the garden memorialize the artist’s affection for all six of them.
“When we were children, he’d use us as models,” Tom said. “We didn’t charge very much. And it’s nice to have a sculpture of yourself or have memories or a representation.”
Lisa Russell, owner of the Russell Gallery, has worked with the family for over five years. She says that the artist’s notoriety among students at the University of Texas, where he taught for 40 years, and the sheer volume of his work cemented his iconic status in Austin.
“I think the fact that Charles was a professor here in Austin and he is an artist who is successful and accessible as a person when he was alive, and the family was accessible, just over the many many years that he was alive, he created a story about himself, he created this life that people don’t forget,” Russell said.
Proceeds from the sale will stay with the family. “Final Farewells” continues until Nov. 9.