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Rudio Autio Remembered
Awarded Residencies
Rudy Autio, 1926 - 2007

Memorial at the Bray Sunday, July 29, 2007
Memorial service and live music by the Big Sky Mudflaps


Rudy Autio (1926 - 2007)

Rudy Autio, a pioneer in the contemporary ceramics movement, passed away on June 20th after a short illness. Known for his clay vessels with activated surface drawings, painterly plates and silkscreen prints, Autio, over a career of fifty-five years, was recognized as the "Matisse of Ceramics" for his vivid color and masterful drawing.

Born during the Depression in the rough and tumble mining town of Butte, Montana, Autio drew inspiration from his immigrant Finnish heritage and working class background, and drew widely from universal mythological themes. He spent most of his career in Montana, teaching at the University of Montana from 1957 to 1984, where influenced two generations of artists.


Rudy Autio in backyard gallery, Missoula, MT, April 26, 2007
(Photo by Richard Notkin)

Archie Bray looks on as Rudy Autio creates a
sculpture of mother and child on horseback, 1951. (Archie Bray Foundation Archives)
Prior to his teaching at the University of Montana, Autio, with his former classmate Peter Voulkos, was the first resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. In tandem, they set a standard of artistic achievement, helping the Bray establish the international reputation it now enjoys.

His talents were recognized by numerous awards including a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in Crafts, a National Endowment for the Arts Craftsman Fellowship and awarded the American Craft Council's Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship. In 1981, he was the first recipient of the Governor's Award and named outstanding visual artist in the state of Montana. He was a Fellow of the American Crafts Council, honorary member of the National Council of Education in the Ceramic Arts, honorary member of Ornamo, Finland's Designers organization and recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore.

Although diminutive in size, Rudy Autio was larger than life, a humble man of mythic proportions that provided inspiration for all whom he encountered through hundreds of workshops, lectures and world travels. He leaves behind a vast and cohesive body of work that has become notable in world ceramics.

Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics
Ceramics Research Center
Arizona State University Art Museum
Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts
2915 Country Club Avenue
Helena, MT 59602
Office Phone: 406-443-3502
Fax: 406-443-0934