Weeping Plates, 2005 Cedar Left: 114 x 114 x 6 1/ 2 inches Right: 128 x 101 x 8 inches Collection of a private foundation Installation view, SculptureCenter
This long-awaited exhibition of the monumental sculptures of Ursula von Rydingsvard will be the first opportunity for the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum to install works that enhance its dramatic and challenging spaces, while paying tribute to one remarkable artist. Born Urszula Karoliszyn in Deensen, Germany, of a Polish mother and Polish-speaking Ukrainian father, war forced her family into refugee camps in Germany where they survived under difficult circumstances that would forever mark her life and her work. For over thirty years, von Rydingsvard has constructed large cedar works by cutting, stacking, gluing and clamping modules into majestic forms that speak of her personal experiences, centuries-old traditions. Replete with references to the history of art, memory, identity and the functions of the mind, each work explores time and environmental space, with which the
The exhibition was recently honored with the U.S. section of the International Association of Art Critics' annual award for Best Show in a Non-Profit Gallery or Space for its premiere at the SculptureCenter, NY. We are grateful to the SculptureCenter for including the Frost Art Museum in its traveling schedule, and to the curator Helaine Posner for her thoughtful analysis of each work. Most of all, we are grateful to Ursula von Rydingsvard for allowing us to share her extraordinary creations and introduce the university and Florida communities to works that command such timeless authority and presence. Carol Damian Director Frost Art Museum
viewer is invited to interact and confront a personal experience of the self. The raw power of her work resonates with a message as intimate as it is universal, and as mysterious as the past that dwells within the soul of each stately formation.
Photo: Rosalyn and Michael Bodycomb
CURATOR’S STATEMENT Ursula von Rydingsvard works on a monumental scale. For over thirty years she has constructed sculpture of cedar, a soft, fragrant wood, which she painstakingly cuts, stacks, glues, and clamps, finally rubbing powdered graphite into the roughly textured surfaces to create works of enormous grandeur and stirring intimacy. Built slowly and incrementally from thousands of small cedar blocks, each work reveals the mark of the artist’s hand, her respect for physical labor, and deep trust of intuitive process. Her signature shapes are abstract yet refer to things in the real world from the modest to the majestic. These forms typically suggest domestic objects such as spoons, plates, and bowls; shovels, axes and other farm tools; women’s bonnets and lace collars; and vernacular architecture including barns, barracks, and fences. Her work also evokes great natural forms, from a craggy cliff side to a deep canyon, and phenomena, such as the forces of wind and water or the formation of the earth’s strata. Von Rydingsvard consistently endows each sculpture with tremendous dignity. In her hands, familiar forms become archetypal objects.
Von Rydingsvard regards her love of wood as part of her history. She comes from a long line of Polish peasant farmers for whom wood provided basic shelter and tools to work the land. Her characteristic form is the bowl in its simplicity and variety. It appears in her work as a wide, shallow basin whose physical gravity recalls the Ocean Floor (1996); as the five voluptuous bowls that comprise Krasawica II (1998-2001), Ukrainian for a beautiful young woman, whose overall shape conveys a fluid sense of movement despite its weighty volume; and as the ruptured, towering form of Halo with a Straight Line (2010), an imposing sculpture that simultaneously intimidates and embraces. In von Rydingsvard’s work a pair of huge, wall-mounted plates may weep (Weeping Plates, 2005), and the enormous, horizontal, torqued shape of Droga (2009), undulates across the floor as the artist makes cedar flow like soft fabric. In sculptures filled with contradiction, the artist succeeds in expressing something raw and elemental with remarkable sophistication and grace. Helaine Posner Guest Curator
Ocean Floor, 1996 Cedar, graphite and intestines 36 x 156 x 132 inches Courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong Installation view, SculptureCenter Photo: Jason Mandella