Fritz Wotruba

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Wotruba, c. 1970: 'Church of the Holy Trinity' in Vienna-Mauer

Fritz Wotruba (April 23, 1907 in Vienna – August 28, 1975 in Vienna) was an Austrian sculptor of Czecho-Hungarian descent. He was considered one of the most notable sculptors of the 20th century in Austria. In his work, he increasingly dissolves figurative components in favor of geometrical abstraction.


Wotruba, 1932: 'Mensch, verdamme den Krieg' ('Man, condemn war'), bronze sculpture
Wotruba, 1934-36: 'Tomb (Grabmal für) for Selma Halban-Kurz', stone sculpture
Wotruba, 1950-51: 'Hockende Figur / Croucing Figure', bronze sculpture
Wotruba, c. 1950's: 'Die Liegende / Reclining Figure', bronze sculpture
Wotruba, 1970: 'Sculpture honouring Richard Wagner', bronze
  • My desire to work is not stimulated by the classical proportions of Greek architecture, but by functional silos and hangars.. .The confusion of places, cluttered with art and culture chokes my inspiration. What stimulates and interests me is the natural noise of a busy city, and the practical lay-out of a harbor or factory which has come into being without consideration of any aesthetic principles.
    • Private Notebooks of Fritz Wotruba; transl. Peter Foges & Haakon Chevalier – Neuchatel, Editions du Griffion, 1961.
  • I dream of a sculpture in which landscape, architecture and city are one. It might be a city like Marseille, a city steaming with heat which suddenly transmogrifies. I becomes an immense piece of sculpture, a gigantic figure, made up of white blocks and segmented by flat, horizontal terraces, arranged in a bare and motionless landscape. (circa 1969)
    • Sculpture of Rotterdam, ed. Jan van Adrichem / Jelle Bouwhuis / Mariëtte Dulle, Center for the Art, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 2002, p. 198.
  • Stone is the only true material for the sculptor. All others, tin, iron bars, tin cans and coiled springs are merely poor substitutes
    • Sculpture of Rotterdam, ed. Jan van Adrichem / Jelle Bouwhuis / Mariëtte Dulle, Center for the Art, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam, 2002, p. 198.

The Human Form: Sculpture, Prints, and Drawings (1977)[edit]

The Human Form: Sculpture, Prints, and Drawings, Fritz Wotruba, ‎Jeannette R. Mueller (1977)
  • I am concerned with the figure.. .Equilibrium, unity.
    • p. 6.
  • At the present time the artists stands alone.. ideology can be of help to him.
    • p. 7.
  • What nevertheless subsists is the desire of an absolute ideal form, a form which can adapt itself to any setting and to any scale.
    • p. 7.
  • The search continues for the absolute model-form which shall do justice to every dimension without loss of inner force.
    • p. 8.
  • The hardness and immobility of material gave me more satisfaction tan true-to-life representations.
    • p. 9.
  • Every magnitude, every dimension, requires a new configuration.
    • p. 10.
  • Culture can flourish only under the protection of a society with aristocratic characteristics.
    • p. 12.
  • The power and force of stone reside in its mass, its weight, and its density.
    • p. 19.
  • Our existence has a hectic quality. It is as though mobilization [circa 1937, the pre-war years in his country Austria] were imminent. Each one of us is suffering; we are all constantly worried as to how we are going through the next day. In spite of all this, we [Wotruba and his wife] have an unquenchable lust for life.
    • p. 21.
  • The sudden change [Wotruba and his wife returned to Vienna in December 1945, at the end of the war; there he started to direct a class for advanced students on the Akademie der Bildenden Künste of Vienna] has had a shock effect on me and on my work. The almost sensual excitement caused by the destruction around me wears off rather quickly. It is not my duty to give this past [of Nazism and the war-years, fh] more significance than it has already been given in literature, on the stage and in the cinema. I am concerned with the figure, with the statuary, i.e., with statics, measurement, equilibrium, and with unity.
    • p. 22.
  • Further working along the lines of experiments of 1954 [toward rounded forms and columnar figures], I executed the 'Figure with upraised arms' as the crucifix for a Parish church in Salzburg.
    • p. 29.
  • The material is destined, in the end, to remain a mere auxiliary, just good enough to enable stammering to become speech.
    • p. 40.
  • There are laws which the stone imposes upon us.
    • p. 46.
  • A good piece of art must combine barbarism and culture: two unique elements...
    • p. 52.
  • Measures, weights, proportions move and change in expression and meaning.
    • p. 56.
  • Only a distinctive individual can produce great art. Great art is synonymous with anonymous art.
    • p. 73.
  • Solidity, rigidity, what did not yield to the pressure of the hand attracted me.
    • p. 88.

Quotes about Fritz Wotruba[edit]

  • In recounting Fritz Wotruba's approving reaction to the figures of Auto-da-Fé, Canetti furthermore invites a comparison between his own literary figures and the hard, uncompromising figures fashioned by this modernist sculptor: ['Das scharf Umrissene der Figuren lag ihm']. Canetti felt an intense artistic ‘brotherhood’ (his term) with Wotruba..
    • Harriet Murphy, in his book Canetti and Nietzsche, - Theories of Humor in 'Die Blendung, 1997, ISBN=0791431347, p. 200

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