WILLIAM LUDWIG (1935-2011)
“I was trained not as a classical sculptor, but as an academic sculptor. How to draw, how to design, how to do things. How to do things…We were not allowed fancy titles for our work. If the work doesn’t explain itself, then a title doesn’t help. If you’re going to write about a piece of sculpture, why do it? Why bother making it? Why go through the agony of the wax and the bronze and the heat and the sweat? Why not just sit down and write the description?”
New Orleans Magazine, 1996
Born: Hartford, Connecticut
University of Connecticut, 1957-1961
Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, 1961-66, BFA Sculpture (cum laude)
Tulane University, 1966-68, MFA Sculpture
University of New Orleans, 1973
William Ludwig’s work has been described by various critics as “realistic,” “surrealistic,” “classical,” and always “meticulously crafted.” His work is generally figurative, usually female, and features detailed, patined surfaces often contrasting with highly polished flat planes or draperies of metal. Ludwig uses some life casts in his work. He models directly in wax and uses the lost-wax method of casting, resulting in images very rich in detail. He variously uses fabric, clothing, headgear, helmets and armor to add movement and content to the pieces. The resulting heads, torsos and reliefs are elegant, graceful and beautifully crafted.
Bill Ludwig attended art school in the early 60’s when a formal, academic education was strongly emphasized. At the Hartford Art School, he studied under Wolfgang Behl, Rudolph Zallinger, Clifford Jones and Paul Zimmerman and graduated cum laude in 1966 with a BFA. He went on to do graduate study at Tulane University under Jules Struppeck and Jessie Poesch and received an MFA in Sculpture with a minor in American Art History in 1968.
Both schools emphasized cast bronze sculpture, and in the same year he received his MFA, Ludwig began a co-operative foundry with another sculptor. The first one-man show of his work at a professional gallery occurred the same year (1968), and he cast his first life-sized figure in bronze the following year.
Ludwig has managed his own studio/foundry operation in the New Orleans area since 1972. In 1985, he designed and built a 3,000+-sq. ft. art casting foundry/studio in Albany, Louisiana. Ludwig has cast all of his own sculpture as well as work for area sculptors and architects, and has the longest continuously-operating fine arts foundry in Louisiana.
Since he received his MFA in 1968, Ludwig has worked as a sculptor and participated in numerous juried and invitational shows, 29-one-man shows and 26 two-person shows. Three of the two-person shows were with Wolfgang Behl, his former sculpture professor at Hartford Art School. Ludwig produces approximately 35 new, unique bronze sculptures annually and is represented by galleries throughout the U.S.
Ludwig has served as visiting artist at colleges and universities in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. He has also served on the faculties at Loyola University and Tulane University in New Orleans. He has been involved in work/study programs with the College of Design at Louisiana and Loyola University of the South that permitted his assistants to obtain college credits.
In 1984, Ludwig was awarded a commission by the Louisiana Vietnam Veterans Leadership program to design and cast the official Louisiana State Vietnam War Monument. The monument, which consisted of four life-sized figures, was the first state monument to the Vietnam veterans in the United States, dedicated on Veterans’ Day, 1984.
In 1990, Ludwig was commissioned to do a life-sized portrait of philanthropist Malcolm Woldenberg with his grandson for Woldenberg Riverfront Park at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans which he completed in the same year.
In April, 1992, Ludwig completed a commissioned work for the City of Orlando, FL consisting of two life-sized bronze citrus workers—one figure standing on a ladder, one seated on an orange crate, located in Leu Gardens in Orlando.
In 1996, he completed a sculpture of the fictional New Orleans character, Ignatius Reilly, from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The life-sized bronze sculpture has been placed beneath the old D. H. Holmes’ department store clock (now a Chateau Sonesta Hotel) on Canal Street in New Orleans.
In late 1996, Mr. Ludwig was commissioned to create a life-sized bronze figure of the Crucified Christ by St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Slidell, LA. This figure, mounted on an 8’ cypress cross, was installed for the spring, 1997 Easter celebration. At the same time, he received a commission to do a sculpture of a life-sized figure of the Holy Mother Mary as a young girl. This was installed in their outdoor garden in August, 1997.
Most recently, Mr. Ludwig has completed a commissioned sculpture of two life-sized bronze figures, an older man and a young boy, seated in conversation, for Presbyterian Homes in Lake Forest, Illinois.