Columbia Gardens - Rudy Autio

Where is it?

Concourse A

When walking away from the Central Terminal, this column follows Bauer’s Minnich and is adjacent to Africa Lounge.

About the Art

The horses seen in Columbia Gardens tell of Autio's affinity for shapely animals and figures, a theme pervasive throughout Autio's extensive ceramic oeuvre. Creating sculpture, fiber artwork, and prints, Autio merged Western folklore with a sensuous and gestural drawing style.

The Details


Rudy Autio




Mosaic column (smalti, marble)


Approximately 10' in circumference (3' diameter) x 20' high

Did you know?

Autio's heavily outlined horses are red, blue, and orange and seem to dance with careful hooves in spite of their graciously curving bodies. “That was the fun,” Lela, Rudy’s widow, recalls, “because nothing was ever pre-planned. He would just take this little spatula and start drawing with it, sometimes it was his thumb.”

  • <p>Photo by Peter de Lory</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio, detail of black horse</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio, detail of white horse</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio, photo courtesy of Peter de Lory</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio</p>
  • <p>© Rudy Autio</p>
  • <p>Photo courtesy of Don Wilson</p>

About the Artist

Autio's figurative ceramic vessels and sculptures are included in numerous collections throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. Most notably, his pieces are found in the American Craft Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian. Autio's method of figural painting is reminiscent of the free, linear style of Matisse's Fauvist drawings.

"The 'gesture and action' of Expressionism seemed uniquely appropriate to working in clay. There was an energy in the air. We were all part of that influence in the fifties – hailed by critics as a new wave in ceramic art." – Rudy Autio

Short Bio

As a child in Butte, Rudy (born Arne Rudolph Autio) began drawing while taking evening classes from the artists of the Works Progress Administration. Autio studied art at Montana State University (then Montana State College) following two years of service in the Navy during World War II. It was in his college years that he first met lifelong friend and fellow ceramicist, Peter Voulkos.

Autio attended Washington State University in Pullman, earning a Master of Arts degree. He founded the ceramics department at the University of Montana, in Missoula in 1957, and he taught there for twenty-eight years. Until his death, he was retired as Professor Emeritus.

See More

  • Montana Connections: Rudy Autio

Hear More

  • Interview with Rudy Autio

Columbia Gardens - Rudy Autio

This vibrant mosaic column is enjoyed for both its color and imagery.