Michael Powolny - vendere e comprare opere
18 September 1871, Judenburg (Austria) - 4 January 1954, Vienna (Austria)
Michael Powolny was a modern Austrian sculptor and ceramicist. He founded the company “Wiener Keramik” (“Viennese Ceramics”) in 1906 alongside Bertold Löffler. Putti are among his best-known motifs.
He was born in 1871 in Styria’s Judenburg to a potter, and his parents recognised his talent from an early age. He began an apprenticeship in his father’s workshop after he had completed his schooling. However, his plans to take over his father’s business were foiled by his step-mother who, after the death of her husband, sold their home and workshop. Powolny continued his apprenticeship at the company “Sommerhuber”. After attending the Technical College for Pottery in Znaim, he continued his studies at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna from 1894 to 1906, under the guidance of Arthur Strasser and Franz Metzner. After leaving this institution, he founded “Wiener Keramik” with Bertold Löffler. The works produced by the company were sold by the Wiener Werkstätte. This enabled Powolny to become well-known on an international level.
The company merged with Gmundner Keramik in 1913. He taught at Vienna’s School of Arts and Crafts from 1909 to 1936, including as a Professor of Ceramics and as head of the specialist course for sculpture and glasswork. In addition to his career as an academic, he collaborated with Josef Hoffmann on the furnishings of the Cabaret Fledermaus and on buildings such as Haus Skywa in Vienna and the Stoclet Palace. Powolny was also able to enjoy successful collaboration with other renowned companies: he developed pieces for Klinkosch, Lobmeyr and Augarten, among others.
Powolny was a member of the Viennese Secession between 1936 and 1939, and after its re-establishment in 1946. In addition to his ceramic works, his most famous pieces include his memorial for the physicist Franz Serafin Exner in the Arkadenhof (arcaded courtyard) of the University of Vienna and his designs for Austrian shillings. His ceramics had a substantial impact on the image of the Wiener Werkstätte. His works were shown at numerous important events, such as the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, and at exhibitions held by the Viennese Secession. Powolny was awarded the Medal of Honour of the City of Vienna in 1952, two years before his death.
Numerous works by Michael Powolny have enjoyed success at auction at Dorotheum in recent years. His design for a winter season putto dating from 1907 was sold for € 43,000 on 21 May 2012.