Cyril Colnik

Year inducted: 2008
1871-1958

Born in Styria, Austria, Cyril attended schools in Vienna and Munich, before apprenticing for four years in an art metal works at Grotz and an architectural blacksmith shop. His skills and training earned his selection to assist in installing the German metal exhibits in the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, aka the Columbian Exhibition and White City. Cyril subsequently settled in Milwaukee where he began work with the Reliance Iron Works, but he quickly decided to open his own iron works in 1894. Until his retirement in 1955, he and his firm produced hand wrought gates, fences, railings, lattices, balconies, brackets, chandeliers, hinges, candlesticks, urns and other decorative sculptural elements for homes, churches and public buildings. His work can still be seen at such noteworthy buildings as Villa Terrace Art Museum, the Pabst Mansion, Mader’s German Restaurant, Wisconsin Memorial Park, and as far as the Ringling Mansion in Sarasota, Florida. Cyril’s daughter, Gretchen Colnik, an artist and noted personality in her own right, bequeathed her collection of her father’s work to the Villa Terrace Museum in 1991, where most of it remains on view. It has been stated that Colnik was the “Tiffany of wrought iron masters” who “... transformed metal into works of beauty and permanence.” As art has evolved in the 20th century we now recognize that there is no longer a question of whether or not Cyril Colnik created craft or fine art; he was indeed a gifted fine art sculptor and a master of metal.

Works by Cyril Colnik