Twenty years after the exhibition ELEMENTS, OBJECTS: Ceramics by Franz Josef Altenburg, the MAK is once again dedicating an exhibition to Altenburg to mark his 80th birthday and his being awarded the Gold Medal of Honor for services to the Austrian Republic.
Spanning almost six decades, Franz Josef Altenburg’s oeuvre documents the great tradition of Modernist Viennese ceramics. After his training at the Graz School of Arts and Crafts, Altenburg worked for Hallstatt Ceramics and afterwards in the studio of Gmunden Ceramics. Since 1976 he is active as a freelance artist in his own workshop in Breitenschützing (Upper Austria). Through his engagement in ceramics symposia, Altenburg has influenced whole generations of young ceramists in Austria. His work is characterized by vessel-shaped forms, architectonic elements, and pared-down constructions. As his artistic precursors, he cites Minimalists such as Donald Judd as well as his former studio partner at Gmunden Ceramics Anton Raidel.
Developed in cooperation with Altenburg, the MAK exhibition exemplifies the work groups he has developed over a period of six decades: “blocks,” “houses,” “stage sets,” “towers,” “scaffolds,” and “frames.” Film documentaries on the oeuvre of arguably Austria’s most important living ceramist round off the presentation.