whilst actively following an experimental approach, LAUFEN has always been supported by their abundance of knowledge in the ceramics industry. driven by passion, high detail and world-renowned swiss quality, the brand has continuously created delicate, beautiful yet innovative products and materials.


initiated in 1963 by artist kurt ohnsorg – an austrian pioneer of modern ceramics – and under the patronage of conrad H. lester, part owner of the LAUFEN group, the ceramics art symposium gmunden stood as a legendary six week event that, likewise, promoted unique creations made by hand. artists from europe were joined by those from nigeria, india, isreal, argentina, canada and the USA to truly make the occasion a laboratory of international ceramic creativity. bespoke pieces were sculpted, technicians and craftsmen learnt from one another, and the initiative became a folklore from the alps.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden


(above) profile of kurt ohnsorg
(below) video of rainald franz of the austrian museum of applied arts



with this fantastic experiment, which took place in the early sixties, kurt ohnsorg brought a whole new attitude to austrian ceramics, which has received international attention. [it brought] artistic design to industrial production. that’s why the exhibition was ground-breaking,states rainald franz, austrian museum of applied arts, as he explains ohnsorg’s unique initiative and how LAUFEN supported the symposium by opening up their factories and studios to the artists.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
anders liljefors, sweden
all images courtesy of LAUFEN



the austrian museum of applied arts’ exhibition was part of a commercial collaboration with the artist kurt ohnsorg. it was held at a time when the profession of a designer did not exist. as such, this led to visionaries working together with artists. this approach, as exemplified by the exhibition, united a leading industry of austrian ceramics together with an internationally renowned artist – and the results are iconic in terms of beauty as well as the movement they started.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
kurt and gerda spurey



the international initiative, though, still lives on today. lester’s son paul, together with gmundner keramik manufactory and the association for the promotion of european ceramics artists, revived the symposium in 2003. later in 2018, the event began to be held at the LAUFEN manufactory engelhof, where artistic perspective of digital ceramic production is explored.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
the ceramics art symposium gmunden exhibition in LAUFEN werk(s) kunst



the ‘1963 – 1969 kurt ohnsorg symposia in the laufen werk gmuden‘ showcases the innovative concept and the creations made. the engaging exhibition has been created with the sculptures formed during the six week events. the display explores forms, material compositions and pure artistic concepts, where ceramic is highlighted as a material for contemporary art.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
the exhibition merges the creations from the original events and the revival in 2018



in the words of kurt ohnsorg’s manifest, ‘the love of handcraft is not to be viewed as a sentimental inclination, but rather as the most ideal possibility for people to engage with matter’. the exhibition highlights this philosophy through the history of the sculptures themselves and the intrigue and conversation their displays provoke. the historic ceramics art symposium gmunden exhibition hopes to inspire current artists as well as simply amazing the general public.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
aino nebel’s plate and disc uses saphirkeramik as canvases for her artwork



the pieces from the legendary original events from 1963 to 1969 have been merged together with those created during the 2018 revival. this include creations from european artists including beate gatschelhofer (austria), jonathan keep (UK), helene kirchmair (austria), yara lettenbichler (austria), héléne loussier (france), annette lucks (germany), aino nebel (germany), tomasz niedziólka (poland) and brigitte penicaud (france). equally identified as sculptures as they are products, their pieces showcase modern explorations of ceramics and highlight the evolution of the craft since the original symposium.


jonathan keep speaking about his design process and the opportunity to join the 2018 revival



curated by professor christine schwaiger, the current show at the LAUFEN showroom and innovation hub in vienna, austria, is joined by selective ceramics art symposium gmunden exhibition on tour throughout europe. station stops include the ceramic museum westerwald near koblenz, germany; the museo carlo zauli faenza in italy; and the museum la piscine roubaix near lille, france. the full list of locations can be found here.

LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
enrica casentini’s playground comprises of 10 molded forms that each explore color variations, in the background


LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
beate gatschelhofer’s monolog in a series feature 147 velvet-smooth parts that showcase a subtle change in color


LAUFEN exhibits sculptures from 1963 - 1969 ceramics art symposium gmunden
jonathan keep’s cantor roots sculpture 3D prints LAUFEN’s renowned saphirkeramik 






exhibition info:


name: 1963 – 1969 kurt ohnsorg symposia in the laufen werk gmuden

location: LAUFEN showroom & innovation hub at salzgries 21, 1010, vienna, austria

curation: professor christine schwaiger

stations: ceramic museum westerwald, germany; the museo carlo zauli faenza, italy; the museum la piscine roubaix, france; and more.