On the occasion of his 80th birthday, the MAK Vienna dedicated an exhibition to the renowned Austrian artist from March 17 to April 25, 2021, which will be shown again from July 21 to August 22, 2021, in the stables of the Kaiservilla in Bad Ischl. Objects personally selected by him from his private collection as well as from private collectors give an overview of his 60-year career in the show.
The works of Franz Josef Altenburg are in the great tradition of Viennese modern ceramics. In his unique language of forms, design, and volume, statics, weight, and surface texture play together congenially. He uses monochrome color, and the structures of the ceramics are the result of an unpretentious, solidly applied technology that does not lack robustness and stability even where elements become more delicate.
Altenburg's clear craft orientation and the exclusivity of the material choice in the restriction to the clay formed or layered by hand and potter's wheel are a prerequisite and confirmation of an intelligently controlled artistic attitude, which is increasingly proving to be right and efficient.
Franz Josef Altenburg designs sculptures from clay that are characterized by vessel shapes and architectural elements, as well as reduced constructions. Artistically speaking, Altenburg is a lone wolf in ceramics. His works are the result of consciously sought-after simplicity and processes of abstraction based on complex starting points and foundations. His concepts, ideas, and positions on phenomena and problems of the environment use a simple, anti-literary symbolic language.
Through his decades of commitment to the ceramic symposiums in Stoob and Gmunden in Burgenland, Franz Josef Altenburg also exerted a formative influence on whole generations of young ceramicists in Austria, whom today cite him as an important reference point in the development of their various approaches to artistic design.
Following his exhibition at the MAK Vienna, this will be continued in cooperation with the Upper Austrian State Cultural GmbH in Bad Ischl from July 21 to August 22, 2021, in the stables of the Kaiservilla. As part of this exhibition, Franz Josef Altenburg will be awarded the Golden Order of Merit for Services to the Republic of Austria. A comprehensive catalog has been published to accompany the two exhibitions.
Franz Josef Altenburg, Clay and Form, MAK Vienna, OÖLKG Linz, Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart, 2021.