Remembering Erwin Hauer, master of architectural sculpture

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Austrian-American sculptor Erwin Hauer passed away on December 22, 2017, aged 91. Born in 1926, in Vienna, he studied at the Rhode Island School of Design then was invited by Josef Albers to study at Yale University in 1956.

Mixing modularity with a mathematical expressiveness, inspired by Henry Moore and the Constructivist sculptors Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner, Hauer cast his architectural sculptures from molds in concrete, gypsum and acrylic resin. His screens became emblematic of modernism. Florence Knoll installed them at the First National Bank & Trust Company of Miami in 1958, and, two years later, at the New York offices of Look magazine. They wrapped the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, and, in the late ’60’s, NASA tried to patent a pattern it developed, only to discover Hauer had beaten it to the punch. By the time production stopped in the mid ’60’s, Hauer’s screens could be found in such far-flung locales as Montreal, Mexico City, and Caracas, Venezuela.

Hauer published his last book, Still Facing Infinity: Sculpture by Erwin Hauer (Images Publishing), just days before his death. John Hill, who collaborated with him on this book, likes to stress the wide influence of Hauer’s sculptures. “Erwin’s work cuts across many disciplines—his sculptor peers, of course, but also architects, mathematicians, and musicians get caught up in its elegance, complexity, and simplicity.”

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