Life in Bronze
Lawrence M. Ludtke, Sculptor
Publication Year: 2013
A disciple of Classical sculpture in a time of pervasive abstract modernism, Lawrence M. Ludtke (1929–2007) of Houston imbued his creations with a sense of movement and realism through his attention to detail, anatomy, and proportion.
As a skilled athlete who played professional baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, Ludtke brought to his art a fascination with musculature and motion that empowered him to capture the living essence of his subjects. As author Amy L. Bacon shows in this sensitive biography, Ludtke’s gentle humanity and sensitivity shines through his work; his sculpture truly projects character, purpose, and personality.
Ludtke, a Fellow in the National Sculpture Society (US) and a Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of British Sculptors, became well-known for his portrait and figurative art. His works grace the halls and grounds of the United States Air Force Academy, Johns Hopkins Medical School, Rice University, Texas A&M University, CIA headquarters, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Pentagon, Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, and the National Battlefield Park at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He has also created significant liturgical art, most notably a life-size Pietá for St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and a Christ and Child for Travis Park Methodist Church in San Antonio.
Based on personal interviews with the artist as well as his family, friends, colleagues, and patrons such as H. Ross Perot, Life in Bronze: Lawrence M. Ludtke, Sculptor places Ludtke’s art within the context of the American figurative art tradition. The author explains how Ludtke was influenced by Italian-born Pompeo Coppini, whose monumental art has especially marked Texas and whose clay Ludtke inherited and used as his own favored modeling medium. Bacon meticulously details how Ludtke’s research into the lives and careers of his subjects was married to his attention to technique and talent. His own life story figures crucially in the creation of those character studies his sculptures so beautifully represent.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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title page, Copyright Page
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Reflections from Two Friends
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Lawrence M. “Larry” Ludtke had a tremendous love for people and especially for working with students from diverse disciplines, helping them understand the importance of art and the uniqueness of sculpture. He pos-sessed a unique capacity to represent and def_ine that spark of human divin-ity in his subjects—in the cold, hard, and lasting medium of bronze. Larry’s ...
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In 1991, I h.scad th.sce p.scleasure of meeting Lawrence “Larry” Ludtke for the f_irst time, when I was a senior at Texas A&M University. I was participating in the Memorial Student Center’s Spring Leadership Trip in which students traveled to Houston for four days to visit museums, dine in world-class restau-rants, attend performing arts presentations, and interact with successful A&M ...
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Th.scrough.scout th.sce ages, human fascination with self-imagery has been a powerful force, transcending generations upon generations of dif_ferent cul-tures and races. Whether through crude portrait drawings seen on cave walls or the f_irst sculptural representations of the human form in stone, Homo sapiens has sought a medium with which to portray the human body and its ...
Paintbrushes and Fastballs
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Larry Ludtke took great pride in the fact that he was a fourth-generation Texan and native Houstonian. Given that both Texas and the Bayou City have always been associated with innovation, a can-do attitude, perseverance, cre-ativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit, it is easy to see the source of his pride and perhaps how these characteristics took shape in him. The building of the ...
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With.sc baseball now behind him, Ludtke focused on settling into his life as a sporting goods salesman for Riddell. The life of a salesman of_ten led to great outings on the golf course, and for Ludtke a golf course was always a welcome sight. Every aspect of the game brought him great pleasure—being outside, basking in Mother Nature, and enjoying the company of good friends. One ...
A Guiding Hand from the Past
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Up.scon returning h.scome from the honeymoon in Europe, Ludtke was determined to learn everything he could about sculpting while he worked for Riddell and then Spalding to earn a living. It was not an easy task to take on during this time when his young family was growing. Ludtke had adopted Ellen, Erika’s daughter, and, soon af_ter, the couple welcomed the birth of their ...
Herman, Heroes, and Legends
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Giv.scen th.sce instruction and af_f_irmation from Waldine Tauch, Ludtke thrust himself into sculpting, working extremely hard to gain more experi-ence and to continue training in the classical techniques. However, sculpting was not going to pay the bills just yet, so Ludtke had to carefully balance his sporting goods job with his newfound passion. Erik remembers spending a lot ...
Return to Aggieland
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Alth.scough.sc Ludtke h.scad attended Texas A&M for just two years before withdrawing to play baseball, he always had an af_f_inity for the school, par-ticularly given its long-standing traditions and values. Patriotism, honor, and loyalty have remained synonymous with the A&M culture since the school’s founding in 1876, and Ludtke upheld these values as the standard for himself ...
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As th.sce sun came up.sc over Little Round Top at Gettysburg, Ludtke and his good friend Jim Reynolds drank cof_fee and thought about how they were viewing the same sunrise the Confederate cavalry must have seen as they were riding up the slopes of Devil’s Den in July 1863. On this mostly clear morning, with only a little fog on the ground, the two men wondered what it must have ...
Tee Times and Brushstrokes
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With.sc th.sce op.scp.scortunity to create the likenesses of presidents, military heroes, sports legends, and historical f_igures comes a tremendous amount of responsibility and a signif_icant amount of self-imposed pressure to “get it right.” When Ludtke was sculpting and had trouble making something look exactly as he thought it should, his response was to walk away from it for a ...
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James Earl Rudder, Texas A&M University. Courtesy of Jaroslav Vodehnal.Col. Arthur D. “Bull” Simons, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and Pietà, Saint Mary’s Seminary, Houston. Courtesy of Ludtke family.Tribute to Texas Children, State Capitol, Austin, TX. Courtesy of Jaroslav Vodehnal.Lyndon Baines Johnson, Texas State University, San Marcos. Courtesy of ...
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In h.scis belov.sced state of Texas, Ludtke’s reputation as a classical sculp-tor continued to spread, and he received numerous commissions from univer-sities, hospitals, nonprof_its, private entrepreneurs, and various organizations. In her book A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas, author Carol Morris Little writes that Ludtke was “one of the state’s best known ...
A Monumental Relationship between Patriots
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Wh.scen asked for th.sce name of one of the most inf_luential people in his life, Ludtke would say, without a doubt, it was the unique friendship he main-tained with Texas billionaire Ross Perot. Perot commissioned Ludtke to cre-ate numerous sculptures that honored men of valor who served in the US military, many of whom endured tremendous hardships as prisoners of war ...
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On May 4, 2007, Ludtke died af_ter a long, gallant f_ight against cancer. At his memorial service, family and friends gathered to celebrate his extraordi-nary life, his remarkable contributions to art and history, and, perhaps even more importantly, to honor the tremendous inf_luence he had on each one of their lives. They remembered this gentle giant of a man who was a renowned ...
The Major Sculptures
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On the hallowed ground of the Gettysburg battlef_ield, more than thirteen hundred sculptures and monuments pay tribute to those fallen soldiers of one of the f_iercest battles of the Civil War. One of Ludtke’s most poignant pieces and one that held a special place in his heart is Brothers Again, the Maryland state memorial, which graces this landscape where the fate of a nation hung ...
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The following is a generally chronological description of Lawrence M. Ludtke’s commissioned sculptures, which are located throughout the United States. Although every effort has been made to include all of the works he created during his vast career, some may have been inadvertently omitted. The formal...
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Page Count: 128
Illustrations: 10 color, 39 b&w photos. Index. Bib.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Joe and Betty Moore Texas Art Series