Rebuffed: Reconceiving Failure
April 12, 2022 - March 12, 2023
Welcome to Rebuffed, an exhibition that considers the concepts of rejection and failure through the lens of two pivotal sculptures by American artist Charles Umlauf (1910-1994).
Throughout his life, Umlauf competed for—and often won—major commissions and national juried exhibitions. Yet at defining moments in his career, even after receiving preliminary approval, the completed work of art was rejected. The artist was then forced reconceive the composition and start anew, a process that was both financially and psychologically costly. Rebuffed takes a deep dive into the collections and archives of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden + Museum. We are honored to display sculptures and personal and professional documents that have never been seen by the public.
Charles Umlauf’s 1945 Crucifixion is the earliest object in Rebuffed, created near the beginning of his Texas career. Shortly after it was cast in bronze, the donor, Marion Koogler McNay, declined to keep it. The UMLAUF is fortunate to have both the original bronze and the 1946 aluminum scale model for the reconceived Crucifixion, on view outside near the back of the Sculpture Garden.
Nearly forty years later, the artist experienced another major disappointment when his finished sculpture, Maria Regina, was returned to him from Lake Charles, Louisiana. Once again, Umlauf was forced to pivot, reimagine, and remake the composition for his donors.
Rebuffed’s exploration of the creative process contains lessons for us all about how one can recover from seemingly devastating rejection, and why it is important to be willing to fail.
The current exhibition is part of our continuing celebration of the UMLAUF’s 30th Anniversary. It would not have been possible without the amazing help of Hayden Juroska, Diana Padron, Marissa Talamantes, and Laura Wimmer. We are grateful for the generous support of Mo and Richard Anderson, Russell Martin, Keller Williams, and Rambler.