Fritz Hartlauer

1919 (Kumberg) - 1985 (Graz)

From 1945 to 1948, Hartlauer was an irregular student at the Graz Arts and Crafts School. He considered himself as a self-taught person. The reason for this self-evaluation was not least his hermetic work rooted beyond any sculptural traditions: he worked as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, architect, designer and craftsman. It was the "primal cell" which Hartlauer referred to in his philosophical system influenced by a Graz-based circle of philosophers, and this construction is like a major thread throughout his whole creative life. Moreover, his dealings with religious studies, metaphysics and H.C. Jung's theories of archetypes influenced his creative work.

In 1948, he worked on an artistic analysis of the human head. In 1955, he started with the symbolic design of the human head that influenced his later works. The 1958 "primal cell" shows a sculptured 4-faced structure that was to become the matrix of all his further works. This matrix resembles the Christian cross that Hartlauer, however, considered as the symbolic form of all major religions in the world. In the primal cell system, the individual form is subject to a rigid system. The form of his sculpture does not correspond to the human body, but in its core, it tackles problems of shape as a spiritual sign of art. The object is created systematically, step by step. The octagon and the cross are geometric figures that often appear in Fritz Hartlauer's œuvre suggesting a constructive access. Although the form vocabulary of the primal cell appears to be rather reduced, a certain symbolism can be deduced from it. On the one hand, the primal cell thus stands for the world as an entity in the material sense,, on the other hand, the cross makes reference to a spiritual, religious level.. Mass and energy are cast in a 3-D form. This primal cell idea follows us in different ways throughout his whole career.

In 1966, he was commissioned to design the retable for the Protestant church at Peggau. In 1967, he created a sandstone sculpture for the place in front of the high-rise in Elisabethstrasse, Graz. In the same year, Hartlauer exhibited a sculpture in the Austrian pavilion of the world EXPO in Montreal. In 1971, he won the first prize for a great sculpture commissioned by Steweag. In 1973, his cast aluminum Urzellenmotiv was installed in the building of the Bawag Bank, Graz. In 1974, Hartlauer designed the facade of Styria eds. and print shop, Graz. In the same year, he designed an altar cross – another aluminium casting - for the Catholic Education Center in Mariatrost. In 1977, he created primal cells for the parish church Zum Hl. Blut, Graz, using aluminum casting and sandblasting on glass techniques .

In 1982/84, he created his Senkrechter Auszug aus der Urzelle (Vertical withdrawal from a primal cell) which has since been installed in Österreichischer Skulpturenpark. It consists of cast aluminium plates mounted on a plinth. In the same year, he was awarded the Würdigungspreis of the province of Styria. Solo exhibitions of his works were shown in Zurich, Paris, Munich, Budapest and Stuttgart. The artist was also a member of Forum Stadtpark in Graz. He designed sculptures for churches and public buildings as well as for the public space. Hartlauer pursued his career very rigorously throughout which he tried to represent a global universal system, through the differentiation of which he wanted to demonstrate the principles of world religions. In 1985, the artist committed suicide.