A rare duck figurine decorated with a splatter glaze of white, blue, and gold on a matt black ground by the renowned Weiner Werkstätte artist Gudrun Baudisch-Wittke (c.1950s)

GUDRUN BAUDISCH (1907-1982) was an Austrian ceramist, sculptor, and painter. She was encouraged by her parents from an early age to pursue an artistic professional life and in 1922 passed the entrance exam for the Austrian Federal School of Building and Applied Arts in Graz. After one year in the sculpture class of Wilhelm Gösser, she switched to the ceramic class of Hans Adametz where she remained for the next three years. While in school, she volunteered at the Scheibbs sound industry, which was a ceramics manufacturer from the interwar years in Scheibbs (Lower Austria), with a connection to the Weiner Werkstätte. She was a welcome guest there as early as 1924, and she was responsible for the original designs of the expressive female heads that were later produced for the Wiener Werkstätte. The "heads", which were created in 1924, and are characteristic of Baudisch, were probably made by colleagues (Vally Wieselthier, and Rudolf Knörlein) in the Scheibbs plant. In 1926 she received her final certificate from the Graz institution.

In 1926 she moved to Vienna and began her professional career as a volunteer, and a full-time employee, in the design department of the Wiener Werkstätte. From 1926 to 1930 she exerted great influence with her expressive ornamentalism, playful mind, and exquisite craftsmanship. Sadly, financial hardships and the coming global economic crisis prevented the ceramics department from booming, but in her time there she would ultimately design and execute 166 objects, and in the course of this activity she met Josef Hoffmann and through him also Ferdinand Kitt, Josef Dobrowsky and Franz von Zülow. The friendship with these artists ultimately led them to the Kitt gatherings in Zinkenbach starting in 1927.

In 1930 she was able to take part in the Werkbund exhibition of the Austrian Werkbund n Vienna with two life-size sculptures. In the same year, she decided to leave the Wiener Werkstätte and start her own ceramic workshop with Mario von Pontoni Her great successes during this period included the stucco work and sculptures commissioned by the architect Clemens Holzmeister for the Kemal Ataturk presidential palace in Ankara in 1934 and the first prize from the Austrian Ministry of Finance for the 50-groschen and 1-schilling design in the same year. She also worked on the Austrian pavilion for the World Exhibition in Brussels in 1935, and in the same year, she became a full member of the Austrian Association of Artists. But as times were bad economically, Baudisch moved to the countryside in the Zinkerbach painter's colony in the summer of 1935. In 1936, with the inevitability war on her doorstep, she closed the Viennese workshop she shared with Mario von Pontoni and moved to Berlin.

Shortly after the move, Baudisch was reunited with one of her old colleagues from her days in Ankara working for Clemens Holzmeister; By now, Josef Thorak whose penchant for monumental sculpture had earned him a number of government contracts, had established himself as a highly influential sculptor in the Third Reich, and by promoting her work, he provided a secure spot for her during the war years. In Germany, the "Art on Construction" ordinance had provided good working conditions for artists since 1934, even if the so-called "renewal of art" sought by the National Socialist regime was not for everyone, the work was impossible to reject. In 1938, she was commissioned to create the stucco ceilings of the Hermann Goering barracks under the supervision of officer Karl Heinz Wittke (1908–1978). The couple fell in love and were married on December 17, 1940. From her first major commission, Baudisch was able to acquire a house in Hallstatt in 1937. In 1944, Baudisch-Wittke moved to Hallstatt with her husband. Two years later, in 1946, the artist founded the Keramik Hallstatt workshop, which she headed until 1977 when she handed it over to Erwin Gschwandtner. The pottery still exists today, now owned by his sons. The original product line consisted of originals and series. At the same time, Baudisch supplied designs for shapes and decors to Gmundner Keramik. On June 30, 1947, she passed the master craftsman's examination; before that, on April 30, 1947, she had received her pottery trade license. The products of the workshop met with great commercial success and some acclaim, as with a famous mocha service, whose Scandinavian-looking design was developed by Baudisch together with the Russian-born architect Anna-Lülja Praun (1906-2004).

In 1961 the artist was honored with the title of professor. A year later, Baudisch-Wittke received the Bavarian State Prize. In 1968, together with Johann Hohenberg, who had taken over Gmundner Keramik in 1968, she founded the “Group H” workgroup ( H stands for Hallstatt and Hohenberg). In 1974 the company moved to Salzburg. Here she lived with her husband in a small old town apartment on Universitätsplatz. In addition, she had set up a studio in the Reidenburg district where she could continue to do her clay work. The company sign can still be found on the house for nostalgic reasons, although the business was discontinued in 1982.

For almost sixty years, the versatile and tireless artist worked with a wide variety of techniques. Her work ranges from tableware to artistic ceramics, from stucco decoration to plastic construction. Countless objects give the impression of a lively artist, an artist who likes to experiment into old age and is “creative” in the best sense. She can rightly be described as one of the most important Austrian ceramicists of the 20th century.

Gudrun Baudisch-Wittke died on October 16, 1982 in Salzburg

Manufacturer HALLSTATT
Design Period 1920 to 1949
Production Period Unknown
Country of Manufacture Germany
Identifying Marks This piece has an attribution mark
Style Vintage, Hand-Crafted, Modernist, Rustic
Detailed Condition Excellent — This vintage piece is in near original condition. It may show minimal traces of use and/or have slight restorations.
Product Code
Materials Ceramic
Color White, indigo, gold, brown
Width 9.0 inch
Depth 4.0 inch
Height 4.5 inch
Quantity Available – 0