Ursula von Rydingsvard and Others: Materials and Manipulations

Ursula von Rydingsvard, American, born in Germany, 1942. Right Arm Bowl, 2009 Cedar. Overall, total of four sections: 188 × 109.2 × 91.4 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong, New York. © Ursula von Rydingsvard Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

Ursula von Rydingsvard (born 1942) has explored organic and inorganic materials, the familiar and the unfamiliar for decades. She is best known for her often monumentally scaled work in cedar—frequently crafted from four-by-fours painstakingly remade with such untraditional sculptural tools as a circular saw, and then assembled in equally transformative modes. Von Rydingsvard’s process is laborious and her approach fearless. Her results challenge us to reconsider the nature of material form and have made her one of today’s most admired sculptors.

This installation features nine works by von Rydingsvard in a variety of media, including a recent Museum acquisition and eight loans from the artist, that together succinctly sketch out the array of considerations that compel her. They are gathered on the occasion of the installation of a new commission for Princeton University, which will occupy one of the plazas of the new Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment. This monumental commission, years in fabrication, is the artist’s first work in copper, incorporating thousands of small-scale, hand-hammered sheets that are as carefully transformed as is her work in cedar.

The works by Ursula von Rydingsvard on view here illustrate a concern for the aesthetic potential and emotional power of materials that is shared with several other contemporary artists whose work is found in the Museum’s collections. Some of these artists question the sources, circulation, and footprint of the materials they use, while others either investigate new means and modes of production or trace their medium’s cultural and political relevance. This installation witnesses a renewed interest both in painstaking (or fastidious) fabrication and in exposing the properties and origins of materials and forms.

Download Checklist

Ursula von Rydingsvard and Others: Materials and Manipulations has been made possible with generous support from Sue and John Diekman, Class of 1965, and Robert and Stacey Goergen, Class of 1990.