Ruth Duckworth

Page 1

Ruth Duckworth 10 September - 2 October 2015

Private View 9 September, 6-8 pm

15 Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4SP +44 (0) 20 7491 1706 | |

Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009) When Ruth Duckworth died at the age of ninety, she was still in her studio experimenting with new shapes and forms, her creativity undiminished. Ruth’s curiosity and urge to create was something I witnessed continuously during the, more than twenty-five years, that I worked as Ruth’s art agent. Often an artists’s work is easily identifiable - once you have seen a few examples you can recognise the next. Not so with Ruth. She loved working with ceramics but also enjoyed working with bronze and stone and used a multitude of forms. From works small enough to be held in the hand to monumental commissions, from sculptures to wall murals. To “know” Ruth’s work requires careful study. Ruth would be happy to know that this exhibition is taking place for she loved England and enjoyed making her annual trips to where she felt the most at home. As a fellow immigrant, Ruth was close friends with Hans Coper and Lucie Rie for many years while she lived and worked in England. These three artists came as foreigners and developed their careers in a medium that was not highly respected at the time, but eventually all three achieved worldwide recognition and respect from collectors and museums. They shared a bond of growth and development that Ruth was ever thankful for. Thea Burger, 2015 Untitled (Inv. no. 9661009), 2005 porcelain, 29.2 x 52 x 6.4 cm RD-0035

Untitled (Inv. no. 898506), 2006 porcelain, 38.1 x 8.9 x 12.1 cm RD-0034 Three Views

Untitled (Inv. no. 692900), 2000 stoneware, 119.4 x 40.6 x 38 cm RD-0040

Untitled (Inv. no. 9911209), 1985 porcelain, 20.5 x 83 x 9 cm RD-0036

Does beauty really matter in these times? Is it an acceptable word in today’s art world? Ruth Duckworth would say yes. She felt there was nothing more beautiful than nature itself. Thus, her inspiration throughout her career was her environment and the natural world around her and, most importantly, her own garden. Ruth worked or sat in her garden almost everyday of her life. Ruth seldom drew her pieces prior to creating something. She would come into her studio in the morning and began “playing” as she would like to say. She would just begin making a form, experimenting with it continually until, as she used to say, “it would make me smile”. Then she knew she was on to something and she would complete the piece. The variety of art works she created sometimes bewildered many of the collectors and curators who followed her work. They were mystified by the range of the creations that came from her studio. She loved developing new shapes and forms and was truly amazing with the variety of work that she was able to produce. This exhibition gives some sense of the variety. Chosen from her personal collection, most of the pieces were favourites of Ruth’s. Some have been exhibited in museum exhibitions but they were always returned to her home for her to enjoy. She loved the beauty of them and they made her life complete. Thea Burger, 2015

Untitled (Inv. no. 193506), 2006 porcelain, 49.5 x 44.5 x 11.4 cm RD-0037

Untitled (Inv. no. 903506), cup from 2006; blade from 2009 porcelain, 16.5 x 11.4 x 8.9 cm RD-0033

Untitled (Inv. no. 706201), 2001 porcelain, 16.5 x 26.7 x 11.4 cm RD-0032

Untitled (Inv. no. 8631104), 2004 porcelain, 24.1 x 16.5 x 8.3 cm RD-0028

Untitled (Inv. no. 884605), 2005 porcelain, 46.4 x 76.8 x 12.7 cm RD-0038


Selected Public Collections

Born in Hamburg in 1919, Ruth Duckworth came to Britain in 1936 as a refugee to join her sister, Renate. She attended the Liverpool School of Art and studied drawing, painting and sculpture until 1940. Her first commission, in 1959, was to carve, in limestone, the Fourteen Stations of the Cross. They may still be seen hanging on the walls at St. Joseph’s Church in New Malden, Surrey.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA Buckingham County Museum, Buckinghamshire, England Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Racine, Wisconsin, USA City Museum, Bassano del Grappa, Italy County Museum, Buckinghamshire County Council, Buckinghamshire, England Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, USA Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, USA Inner London Education Committee Collection, London, England Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart, Germany Legion of Honor Fine Arts Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, USA The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA Mills College, Oakland, California, USA Museum August Kestner, Hannover, Germany Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands Museum für Moderne Keramik, Deidesheim, Germany Museum für Zeitgenössische Keramische Kunst, Frechen, Germany The Museum of Arts and Design, New York, USA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, USA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Wales Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, USA Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, New York, USA Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseum, Schloss Gottorf, Germany Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington D.C., USA Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, USA Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands Stedelijk Museum, ’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England Windsor Castle, Windsor, England York Museums Trust, York, England

In the late 1940’s, Duckworth moved to London where her parents lived. In the mid-50’s, she became more involved with ceramics and went to study at the Central School of Art to learn about glazes. While she was there she developed a highly individual approach, working both in porcelain and stoneware. She eventually became an instructor at the Central School and taught there for many years. Duckworth approached clay as a sculptor rather than as a potter, and brought an aesthetic rigour to her refined vessel forms, figurative sculptures and installations. She helped shape a new way of thinking about ceramics in the second half of the 20th century. In 1962, Duckworth was offered a one-year sabbatical to teach in the United States at the University of Chicago where she began her work of large-scale sculptures and wall pieces and continued to create smaller vessel forms. She ultimately decided to set up a studio and remain in the United States. Following a brief illness, she died in Chicago in 2009.

Front, inside front, and back covers: Untitled (Inv. no. 7481001), 1985 stoneware, 55.9 x 25.4 x 22.9 cm RD-0039

portrait courtesy of the Ruth Duckworth Estate

Untitled (Inv. no. 2951091), 1991 porcelain, 12.1 x 11.4 x 5.7 cm RD-0031

The exhibition is illustrated online at Design by fivefourandahalf Printed by Witherbys Lithoflow Printing Photography by Michael Harvey