Carl Auböck

AUSTRIA (1900–1957)
When Carl Auböck’s wife would hear quarreling coming from the workshop near their home in Wien, Austria, she knew better than to venture inside. It wasn’t for fear she might witness an unsavory dispute; she well knew a sensational idea was about to be born. A man who spent the better part of his life in the very metal shop founded by his father, Auböck would become one of the best-known figures of Austrian modernism. Although he left to study painting at Vienna’s Academy of Fine Art and became a student of the Bauhaus (1919-1921), he preferred the comfort of home and returned in 1925 to take over his father’s workshop, Werkstatte Carl Auböck, where he apprenticed as a teen.

In his early years heading up the workshop, Auböck would carry on production of Wiener Bronzen, the enameled miniature figures his father had created. He continued to pursue painting in his spare time, but it wasn’t until he gained commercial success with his abstracts that he began to experiment with design of a modern, more functional art object. His material of preference was brass, which he often treated with a process of patinating and polishing to achieve a contrast and character rarely seen in brass works. The result demonstrates not only his mastery of modern form but a great awareness of and respect for the metal itself. His "Optimist-Pessimist" and "Man with Cane" brass figures sum up his modernist attitude – an attitude that abstained from ornamental indulgence of any kind and embraced craftsmanship, simple form, humor and soul.

Just as Auböck followed in his father’s footsteps, his own son would more than carry on production of his endearing designs. Carl Auböck III (1924-1993) brought to the family a commercial status recognized around the globe. An internationally celebrated designer in his own right, Carl III thought that good design could heal the world. His son, the fourth Carl, has stepped in to ensure that the healing will continue.