Still Facing Infinity: The Tectonic Sculptures of Erwin Hauer
“Beginning in 1950, very early during my studies in sculpture, I developed a series of works that were modular in structure and featured surfaces that were continuous. They also showed the potential for continued progression toward infinity.“
This is Erwin Hauer (1926-2017) describing the development of the first Continua, the modular planar sculptures that launched his career. The Austrian-born sculptor would go on to patent these designs, develop the technologies to manufacture them and install several screen walls based on the designs for churches in Vienna. Based on the attention these screens generated, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and came to the United States in 1955. Josef Albers invited him to join the faculty of Yale in 1957 where he taught until 1990. Hauer’s patented designs for the Continua were licensed to the New York firm Murals Inc. and marketed throughout the United States and six other countries. The light-filtering screens were embraced and used as brise soleil and room dividers by modern architects including Edward Durell Stone, Gordon Bunshaft, and Florence Knoll. After about twelve successful years, the manufacture of the architectural screens ceased due to changing market conditions.
Hauer continued to work as an independent sculptor in Bethany, Connecticut. During this period, he furthered his work with double curved or “saddle surfaces”, begun in the 1950s, but now advancing out of the plane into what he called “fully three-dimensional modules that potentially propagate throughout all of space.” These modules, which he happened upon intuitively, were later acknowledged as a mathematically significant achievement and given the name I-WP surfaces by the mathematician Alan Schoen. This line of inquiry led Hauer through numerous variations on encapsulating infinite space within finite formal configurations. These sculptures include small studies as well as tall towers and are rendered in a range of materials.
With the publication of Erwin Hauer: Continua in 2004 by Princeton Architectural Press, there was renewed interest and demand for Hauer’s modular installations. Hauer teamed up with his former student Enrique Rosado to produce some of his earlier designs and to adapt his Continua screen walls for production with computer assisted techniques. They remain in production in New Haven today.
Enrique Rosado (MC 1992), organizer and curator
Organization team at Erwin Hauer Studios:
Andrew Benner (M.Arch 2003), Director of Exhibitions and Assistant Curator
Alison Walsh, Exhibition Coordinator and Registrar
Erin Hyelin Kim (M.Arch 2019)
Design 6 Special (1958/2015) was generously loaned by the Yale University Art Gallery, Janet and Simeon Braguin Fund.
Design 7 (1959) is on loan from Alan and Susan Ravitz.
Still Facing Infinity: The Tectonic Sculpture of Erwin Hauer is supported in part by Knoll International, Spinneybeck, and Hyde Park Mouldings, Inc.
The Yale School of Architecture’s exhibition program is supported in part by the Fred Koetter Exhibitions Fund, the James Wilder Green Dean’s Resource Fund, the Kibel Foundation Fund, the Nitkin Family Dean’s Discretionary Fund in Architecture, the Pickard Chilton Dean’s Resource Fund, the Paul Rudolph Lectureship Fund, the Robert A.M. Stern Fund, and the School of Architecture Exhibitions Fund.