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Michael Powolny

(1871—1954)


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(b Judenburg, 18 Sept 1871; d Vienna, 4 Jan 1954). Austrian decorative artist and sculptor. He received training as a potter in his father's business from 1885 to 1889. In 1906 (with Bertold Löffler) he established the Wiener Keramik as an independent workshop where in the period up to 1913 he produced Laub- und Blumenstil works as well as geometric, abstract works. In 1907 a professional connection with the Wiener werkstätte was established, which took over the sale and distribution of products from the Wiener Keramik. This collaboration led to their participation in the work at the Palais Stoclet (1905-11) in Brussels, for which Powolny produced ceramic works, and in the Fledermaus cabaret (1907), with wall and floor tiles, which he made in collaboration with Löffler. Powolny is best known for his figurative works (notably female nudes, but also putti and animals), but also produced simple vases, boxes and dishes in strictly geometrical linear and two-dimensional decoration; from 1910 he produced black-and-white ceramics. In a manner typical of Viennese artistic style he occasionally combined the abstractly geometrical with the naturally organic creative principle, for example by making putti hold or carry geometrically ornamented fruit-bowls or vases, or form, as if they were a relief, the perforated side-wall of a cylindrical covered box. In 1913, after the dissolution of the Wiener Keramik when it merged with the Gmundner Keramik, Powolny produced numerous ceramic models for the firms of Sommerhuber (in Steyr) and Wienerberger (in Vienna).

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From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.


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