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Life in Bronze

Lawrence M. Ludtke, Sculptor

Amy L. Bacon

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

Series: Joe and Betty Moore Texas Art Series

Front Cover

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p. 1-1

Title page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-9

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Reflections from Two Friends

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pp. ix-x

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 possessed a unique capacity to represent and define that spark of human divinity...

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pp. xi-xv

In 1991, I had the pleasure of meeting Lawrence “Larry” Ludtke for the first 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 restaurants...

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pp. 3-8

Throughout the ages, human fascination with self-imagery has been a powerful force, transcending generations upon generations of different cultures and races. Whether through crude portrait drawings seen on cave walls or the first sculptural representations of the human form in stone,...

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Paintbrushes and Fastballs

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pp. 9-14

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, creativity, and an entrepreneurial spirit, it is easy to see the source of his pride...

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An Awakening

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pp. 15-17

With baseball now behind him, Ludtke focused on settling into his life as a sporting goods salesman for Riddell. The life of a salesman often 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,...

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A Guiding Hand from the Past

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pp. 18-21

Upon returning home 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...

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Herman, Heroes, and Legends

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pp. 22-37

Given the instruction and affirmation from Waldine Tauch, Ludtke thrust himself into sculpting, working extremely hard to gain more experience 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...

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Return to Aggieland

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pp. 38-45

Although Ludtke had attended Texas A&M for just two years before withdrawing to play baseball, he always had an affinity for the school, particularly given its long-standing traditions and values. Patriotism, honor, and loyalty have remained synonymous with the A&M culture since the school’s...

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Brothers Again

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pp. 46-50

As the sun came up over Little Round Top at Gettysburg, Ludtke and his good friend Jim Reynolds drank coffee 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,...

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Tee Times and Brushstrokes

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pp. 51-56

With the opportunity to create the likenesses of presidents, military heroes, sports legends, and historical figures comes a tremendous amount of responsibility and a significant amount of self-imposed pressure to “get it right.” When Ludtke was sculpting and had trouble making something look...

Color Gallery

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pp. a-h

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Texas Ties

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pp. 57-67

In his beloved state of Texas, Ludtke’s reputation as a classical sculptor continued to spread, and he received numerous commissions from universities, hospitals, nonprofits, private entrepreneurs, and various organizations. In her book A Comprehensive Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in Texas, author...

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A Monumental Relationship between Patriots

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pp. 68-73

When asked for the name of one of the most influential people in his life, Ludtke would say, without a doubt, it was the unique friendship he maintained with Texas billionaire Ross Perot. Perot commissioned Ludtke to create numerous sculptures that honored men of valor who served in the US...

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pp. 74-76

On May 4, 2007, Ludtke died after a long, gallant fight against cancer. At his memorial service, family and friends gathered to celebrate his extraordinary life, his remarkable contributions to art and history, and, perhaps even more importantly, to honor the tremendous influence he had on each one of...

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The Major Sculptures

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pp. 77-98

On the hallowed ground of the Gettysburg battlefield, more than thirteen hundred sculptures and monuments pay tribute to those fallen soldiers of one of the fiercest 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...

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pp. 99-110

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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pp. 111-114


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pp. 115-117


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pp. 119-126

E-ISBN-13: 9781603449663
E-ISBN-10: 1603449663
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603449434

Page Count: 128
Illustrations: 10 color, 39 b&w photos. Index. Bib.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Joe and Betty Moore Texas Art Series