Monday, 11 June 2012

Destiny of Gustinus Ambrosi (1893-1975)

destiny n (pl -ies) 1 the power or agency held to determine the course of events, fate
(Penguin Concise Dictionary)

 'Man and his Destiny'

This powerful and anguished work is by Gustinus Ambrosi and is from the year 1920. It is currently displayed in the Ambrosi compound in Vienna's Augarten park where the poet and sculptor Ambrosi lived and worked from 1957 until he took his own life in 1975.

Ambrosi's original studio, given to him for life in 1913 by the Emperor Franz Joseph I was situated in the Viennese Prater, where the famous Ferris Wheel featured in the classic Orson Wells film of Graham Greene's The Third Man turns even today.

The studio was badly damaged during World War II and demolished in 1945. 

The deaf sculptor Ambrosi was in essence a chameleon and after the fall of the Habsburg dynasty he "smoothly and quickly adapted to each rising power" in turn, to quote researcher Oliver Rathkolb. These "rising powers" included the First Austrian Republic, Austro-Facism, the Thousand Year Reich, the Allied Powers, and the Second Austrian Republic.

Ambrosi had no fear of dictators, or anybody else for that matter. In 1924 he travelled to see Mussolini in Italy and created a bust of El Duce. This work is also to be seen at the Augarten exhibition.

In 1937, on returning to Vienna from Switzerland, he was picked-up by the Gestapo and questioned regarding newspaper articles he had written against "the megalomania of nationalism". He was released, having offered the excuse that he must have had an "aberration". Subsequently he applied to join the Reich Literature Chamber.

And so the chameleon survived those dangerous years. After the war he was speedily de-Nazified, announcing that his "circle of most intimate friends" included the likes of Thomas Mann, Stefan Zweig, Wolfgang Korngold and others, and that he had "always been an enthusiastic Austrian."

See also 'Royal Cows in the Augarten Park' and 'A Walk in the Augarten Park' (previous posts - 2nd and 3rd below) for more information on this topic.


  1. Hi John, I was re-reading a "maginficent work" called Tuim Tin Tassie the other day!!


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