Charles Julius Umlauf was born on a farm outside South Haven, Michigan, in 1911, the sixth of eight children born to French and German immigrant parents. When he was eight, the family moved to Chicago. Umlauf’s fourth grade teacher soon recognized his artistic talents and took him to the Art Institute of Chicago where he was given summer scholarships. After high school Umlauf studied at both the Chicago Art Institute and the Chicago School of Sculpture. In 1937, he married Angeline Allen, a fellow student at the Art Institute.
In 1941, the couple moved to Austin, Texas, where Charles had agreed to join the new art department at the University of Texas as a life drawing and sculpture instructor. He taught there for 40 years, retiring as professor emeritus in 1981.
During his career, Umlauf was awarded nearly every professional award, including both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Ford Foundation Grant. In Texas, he was honored in 1985 by the Houston Art League as “Texas Artist of the Year” and in 1993 by the City of San Antonio as “Alcalde.”
Umlauf’s work can be seen in public collections and museums across the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. In Texas, there are more of his sculptures in public placements than work by any other single sculptor.