Fritz Hartlauer

Senkrechter Auszug aus der Urzelle, 1982/84

Hartlauer was interested in C. G. Jung’s model of archetypes, comparative religious studies and metaphysics. This led him to a dynamicsymmetrical system consisting of constructive basic elements, which he referred to as a ‘primal cell system’. The stele shows a ‘primal cell’ and is composed of four identical rectangular reliefs on a square base. An intricate network of lines produces a wealth of individual geometric shapes that derive from complex doubling and nesting of these basic elements. The smooth, shiny material of the cast aluminium slabs adds to the regular, mathematical nature of this work.
 

 

Fritz Hartlauer’s work occupies a unique position within modern Austrian art, with very few reference points. While most of the protagonists of modern Austrian art have remained attached to the abstraction of nature – ultimately to figuration – Hartlauer during the 1950s developed a purely abstract geometric system of order. In 1995, Peter Weibel revealed parallels to serial sculpture and the Minimal Art of the 1960s in Hartlauer’s work and pointed out certain scientific discoveries relating to the basic principles of formal growth in nature (chaos theory and fractals) that Hartlauer’s vanguard pieces effectively anticipated. 

 

Interestingly, Hartlauer came from a completely different background: he was interested in C. G. Jung’s model of archetypes, comparative religious studies and metaphysics. He was searching for a way to make the universal human frame of reference visible, together with the fundamental principles of organic and inanimate nature. The formal analysis and geometrisation of the human head led him to a dynamic-symmetrical system consisting of constructive basic elements, which he referred to as the “primal cell system” and expressed in drawings, reliefs and sculptures. The basic element of the “primal cell” is the square, from which the octagon and the cross derive when another square is placed over a corner.

 

The stele “Senkrechter Auszug aus der Urzelle“ ("Vertical extract from the primal cell") is composed from four identical reliefs executed on rectangles that rest on their narrow end and together form a square base. An intricate network of lines produces a wealth of individual geometric shapes that derive from doubling and combining the basic elements. Moving upwards, the design disintegrates into smaller and smaller parts and becomes increasingly dense. The smooth, shiny material of the cast aluminium slabs adds to the regular, mathematical nature of this work, which is also emphasised by its natural surroundings.

 

Author: Gudrun Danzer

Plan & Overview: Position 9

Owner: [Austrian Sculpture Park, Universalmuseum Joanneum]
Biography:Fritz Hartlauer

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