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.
MAK Forum
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.
The publication FRANZ JOSEF ALTENBURG: Clay and Form appears on the occasion of the renowned Austrian ceramic artist’s 80th birthday and complements the exhibition of the same name at the Kaiservilla, Bad Ischl, as well as a presentation at the MAK. Edited by Alfred Weidinger, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, and Rainald Franz, with contributions by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Franz Josef Czernin, René Edenhofer, and Rainald Franz. German/English, 140 pages with numerous color illustrations. MAK, Vienna/OÖLKG, Linz/arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart 2021. Available at the MAK Design Shop and online at for € 39.
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.

Curator: Rainald Franz, Curator, MAK Glass and Ceramics Collection