Mentoring A Muse: Charles Umlauf &
FEBRUARY 16 - AUGUST 20, 2017
In an exhibition titled Mentoring a Muse: Charles Umlauf & Farrah Fawcett, the UMLAUF explores a new and extraordinary aspect of an actress heretofore only narrowly known for her broad smile and bombshell looks, Farrah Fawcett. While much is known about Fawcett’s public life — her television and film career, including four Emmy and six Golden Globe nominations — her interest in art remains far more enigmatic. Although she left UT for Hollywood before completing her degree, she maintained her sculptor’s practice for her entire life, keeping an art building on the property of her Hollywood home. Fawcett maintained an ongoing friendship and correspondence with Umlauf for decades, visiting him and his wife Angeline when she was in Austin and attending the award ceremony when Umlauf became Texas Artist of the Year, presented in Houston in 1985, with Fawcett’s then partner Ryan O’Neal.
Mentoring a Muse explores how the aesthetic influence traveled both directions: Umlauf made a tremendous impact on her style and remained, in Fawcett’s words, her “favorite teacher.” Likewise, she exerted a muse-like influence on his work. He created dozens of sketches and sculptures of Farrah Fawcett, both from life and memory.
Fawcett collected Umlauf’s work and continued to sculpt for her entire life. The actress sent plaster casts of her own sculptures to Umlauf, who then shipped them to his Italian foundry for casting in bronze. This exhibition brings both artists’ work together, revealing a dialogue of style, technique, and interest. Like Umlauf, Fawcett drew much inspiration from her family, drawing and sculpting portraits of her sister and nephew, and commissioning Umlauf to sculpt a portrait of her son.
At her death, Fawcett bequeathed her art collection to the Blanton Museum of Art, including 20 Umlauf works, a few Andy Warhols’ and over 100 works of her own. the exhibition has several of these works on loan as well as works from the UMLAUF and City of Austin collection and other private and gallery collections. Also presented in the exhibition are letters written by Fawcett to Umlauf directly from the UMLAUF’s archive.
This exhibition is organized by UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum curator Katie Robinson Edwards, AND would not have been possible without the generous loan of art work from the Bequest of Farrah Fawcett at the Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin. Special thanks to Annette Carlozzi for laying the groundwork for this endeavor and the Blanton team of Veronica Roberts, Meredith Sutton, Gabriela Truly, and Simone Wicha. The UMLAUF also thanks Crutch Crutchfield, Mary Anne Rickhoff, Greg Walls, the Russell Collection, Arthur Umlauf, and the Umlauf Family Partnership for lending artwork. Information on Farrah Fawcett’s art was graciously provided by Sylvia Dorsey, Keith Edmier, Greg Lott, Karen Spellings, Nels Van Patten, Pat Van Patten, and Greg Walls. Special thanks to Stephanie Busing, Ryan Corrigan, Maryhelen Murray, and David Nichols of Refined by Fire Media. Support for this exhibition was provided in part by the City of Austin Economic Development Cultural Arts division and Texas Commission on the Arts.