Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s Monumental Sculptures

Posted by: Roy Wilbur

Working in Brooklyn, New York, for over 30 years, Ursula Von Rydingsvard is best known for creating large-scale, often monumental sculpture from cedar beams, which she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and laminates, finally rubbing powdered graphite into the work’s textured, faceted surfaces. Recently she has cast sculptures in bronze from full-scale cedar models. She deliberately uses cedar boards milled into 4″ by 4″ widths with varying lengths, which create a neutrality or “blank canvas” that enables her to dip into many different possibilities, often within the arena of the psychological and emotional. As she explains this approach: “If I were to say how it is that I break the convention of sculpture (and I’m not sure that’s what I do or even if that’s what I want to do), it would be by climbing into the work in a way that’s highly personal, that I can claim as being mine. The more mine it is, the more I’m able to break the convention.”

Ursula’s work is represented in the permanent collections of over 30 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, San Francisco MoMA and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. She has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, three awards from the American section of the International Association of Art Critics, the International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her permanent sculptures are in the collection of the Bloomberg Corporation, Barclays Center, Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among many others. Major exhibitions include the 56th Venice Biennale, Venice (2015); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK (2014); Sculpture Center, Queens, New York (2011); Madison Square Park, New York (2006); and Storm King Art.

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