Bruno Zach was a Ukrainian-born Austrian sculptor best known for his bronze and ivory Art Deco sculpture. Born on May 6, 1891 in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Zach studied under Hans Bitterlich and Josef Mullner at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. After he left the academy he swiftly moved to Berlin, a city that played a key role in shaping his practice and where he is known to have made some of his most famous works. Zach mainly worked worked between the years 1918 and 1935, rapidly becoming a pioneering and controversial figure of the Art Deco age. His works revelled in the spirit of the time, often featuring erotic subject matter which made Zach’s work so unique - his devotion to the exotic.
Zach reportedly spent much of his life in Berlin and Vienna carousing with prostitutes and at night clubs, where he found both lovers and models for his provocative sculptures. His elegant works capture these dual worlds of his life, the erotic night and the light beauty of innocence, a quality that can be seen beautifully in The Riding Whip, a cold-painted bronze sculpture of young girl pointing a whip tightly in front of her.
He mainly worked in in bronze and ivory, drawing on the symbolism of these materials, such as the light beauty of ivory, the weight of bronze or the lust of gold His bronzes works were generally fired in mid-brown colors but were often cold painted or polychromed, resulting in the vibrant colours we can see today in his works.
Zach became a prolific creator of sculptures featuring tall, athletic, women, while also pursuing more traditional genre subject matter like dancers, mythological creatures, or horseback riders. His styles ranged from art deco, art nouveau, sporting, to orientalism, drawing from a diverse range of themes and subject which resulted in the many worlds we can now see captured across his works.
One of his best known sculptures is the ‘The Riding Crop’, similar to the above ‘Riding Whip’, is an excellent example of his charged erotic subject matter at its height. Original period castings of this sculpture have sold for as much as $151,849, one such sale having taken place at the Bonhams on 23 November 2011. According to Bonhams' director of decorative arts, Mark Oliver, "the demand for his work just grows and grows".
Zach died at the age of 53 on February 20, 1945 in Vienna, Austria. His work was edited by several firms at the time, including Argentor-Werke (Vienna), Broma Companie and S. Altmann Company.
Today, his works are in the collection of the Art Deco Museum in Moscow.