January 29, 2011

Umlauf Sculpture Garden

Art.  Framed by Nature.

Charles Umlauf (1911-1994) came to Austin to teach sculpture and life drawing at the University of Texas after studying at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Umlauf worked in many different materials including terra cotta, stone, wood and bronze.  His subjects are equally diverse ranging from family groups and animals, to religious and mythological figures and nudes.  Umlauf's sculptures are found in more public placements across the state of Texas than work by any other single sculptor. 

Here is a small sampling of the diverse and amazing sculptures you will find in the garden along with a few  interesting plant sightings...You'll notice how fall like the garden appears with all the nandina showing its colorful foliage.  A Texas dogwood tree holds fast to its leaves and the birds were feasting on all the red berries found throughout the garden.

The Umlauf Sculpture Garden celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.   Stop by if you have the opportunity, you'll find your visit worthwhile.

I'm adding a link here as many readers have asked specific questions about Umlauf's life.  This is the most descriptive source of information that I've found and offers some insight into Umlauf's work and talent.   The University of Texas faculty bio.


  1. Great statues It would be nice to see them in live there.Great leaves photos, you have so much color there which I miss SO much.
    Have a nice Sunday

  2. Dear Cat, I am so pleased that you have introduced me to this most talented sculpture, about whom I knew nothing before your posting. The Sculpture Garden looks to be a most magical place with the plantings and the sculptures perfectly complementing each other.

    Umlauf's work seems to me to contain much sorrow but also hope. I can but wonder whether this is in some way a reflection of his life.

  3. Cat thank you for sharing this Art work they are beautiful in a somber and sad sort of way, I see a lot are mother and child, the first is very moving you can feel the mothers pain (well I can), now to follow the link you gave, Frances

  4. I love the expression on the chicken's face. How lucky you are to have all those sculptures around your city.

  5. Hello Henrietta, We do still have a bit of color around Austin...the lovely winters here are what keep us sane as we plod through our hot summers!

    Dear Edith, Umlauf's work conveys such emotion and I'm pleased the photos captured it. The garden also has a really large pond but had been drained during my last visit. My favorite sculpture in the garden sits in the middle of the pond and is called The Lovers. Hopefully, you'll espy that wonderful piece if you decide to research Umlauf.

    Yes Frances, you're right on about the emotion in that first photograph. That particular work is titled War Mother and it so accurately reflects the emotion of the mother and child. Amazing what talented hands can do with a piece of stone.

    We are blessed to have Umlauf's garden here in Austin...It is located in central Austin and sits below the neighborhood we once lived in...I was really blessed then as I would walk to the garden all the time when my daughter was small and we would wander the grounds frequently. The beautiful weather last week was the perfect opportunity to see the garden again. I thought the rooster was a bit comical too!

  6. I have actually visited the Umlauf Garden in Austin. I took my Aunt there who is from Germany. We had a wonderful day but I must say that your photographs and perspective on the sculptures are almost better than the real thing. Your photographs bring a additional artistic element to them!

  7. some lovely works indeed. You have done a fine job in capturing them too.

  8. Very emotional sculptures, and your photos capture that. The faces are harrowing. This is a post I have to go back to and spend some time looking at; these pictures call for much study and contemplation. They're wonderful.

  9. beautiful works and garden. although many of the figures seem distressed, they also appear serene. what was his personal story (in a nutshell) or main source on inspiration?

  10. The sculptures are so expressive. I wonder if it reflects the artists own feeling at the time. I read sadness, sorrow and fear. Beautiful work and lovely garden additions.

  11. I love the sculpture and the way you captured them...beautiful!!

  12. Cat, The sculptures definitely evoke a feeling of sadness, even someone tormented, except the rooster, and he looks devilish. Love the whole post--I wonder if I will ever get to Austin. Carolyn

  13. Thank you Margie!

    Thank you Karin, you are very sweet. His work is easy to photograph as he was able to convey so much emotion and detail in his sculpture. The depth of emotion that he could bring out of his desired medium just blows me away!

    Thank you Stone Art ;~)

    Thank you Laurrie, that is the highest compliment that you would come back to study the photos...I hope you find your time spent here worthwhile.

    Laguna Dirt....I've added an additional link of the bio on Umlauf from the University of Texas. They seemed to offer a little more insight into his background than most other accounts of his life.

    Donna, Umlauf's ability to convey emotion through his sculpture is fascinating to me...This is just a small sampling of his work. There are many pieces in the garden that aren't as distressed but I wasn't able to photograph all of them. One of my particular favorites is called Lovers and it sits in the midst of a beautiful pond in the middle of the garden. Unfortunately, the pond was drained last week for cleaning...

    Thank you Donna!

    Carolyn, I hope that you'll make it to Austin some day and that if you do you will contact us (Austin bloggers) so we can show you our sweet city!

  14. His sculptures of people all seem to be so sad. I'm not sure I would want a sculpture so filled with hints of tragedy in my own garden, but the pieces are stunning.

  15. Cat, You take fantastic photos. The best ones I feel are the leaves and the berries. I prefer happy faces.

  16. Hello Janet, yes, I shared with One that the photos I took in the sculpture garden must have been indicative of my mood that day...I was feeling a bit sad too. Not all of his work is so sad. I wasn't even aware as I took the photos of what I was drawn too...interesting how we are led and don't even realize why sometimes.

    Thank you DE! I appreciate you stopping by.

  17. Hi Cat, I need to take a few lessons from you in adding texture to photographs. You are a master at it! Both the Umlauf sculptures and your photographs of them are lovely.

  18. Stunning photos, Cat. The emotion in this man's work is phenomenal. I, like most other visitors, love the first one: Mother and child since I'm feeling very maternal again these days. I hope you're not sad anymore :/

  19. Thank you Jennifer. You can find lots of cool (free) textures on the internet if you do a search...the sky is the limit!

    Thank you Diane...feeling much better ;~)

  20. Such expressive sculptures - although rather sad and sober. I'll have to come back and read more about him. Beautiful macros too - very nice colours (no wonder the birds love them).

  21. Whimsy that was a wonderful presentation : )
    I am more a fan of animals/birds in the garden except for the occasional mythical being (aka "Greenman"). The sculptures are in deed beautiful though simple lines for maximum impact. I love the nandina and berries ! .. it is too cold here for it, but the colour and berries are so beautiful makes me envious ! ;-)


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Thanks for taking the time to visit!