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Ursula von Rydingsvard (artist)

American (born Germany)


Ursula von Rydingsvard was born to Polish parents in Deensen, Germany in 1942. From 1945 to 1950 she and her family lived in eight different refugee encampments for displaced Polish nationals. The family emigrated to the United States in 1950, settling in Plainville, Connecticut. She earned both her B.A. and M.A. in art education from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida in 1965, and her M.F.A. from Columbia University, New York, New York in 1975. She also received an honorary doctorate from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore in 1991. Von Rydingsvard currently lives and works in New York City. She is represented by Galerie Lelong in Paris, New York and Zürich. Her works are in numerous public and private collections. For more information, visit the artist’s website.

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Ursula von Rydingsvard is a contemporary artist who creates distinctive, often large scale sculptures of wood, bronze, and other materials that are installed and exhibited globally in museums, galleries, sculpture parks, and public spaces. Often beginning with milled cedar, not unlike a “blank canvas,” she dips into an arena of the psychological and emotional. von Rydingsvard 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." Through close observation and with poetic urgency, she creates abstract forms that invoke the body, landscape, language, vernacular architecture, spoons, shovels, and other common artifacts.Her sculpture has features of the hands and mind of a seasoned builder, as well as a sophisticated artist. The work emerges from contradictory processes of labor – destructive and constructive, fractured and mended, decomposed and recomposed. von Rydingsvard’s work is a space where compelling contemporary ideas and searing memories coexist. She cuts away at the surfaces of cedar beams unleashing and discovering a deep, natural character. These nearly broken elements are arranged and bonded together in evocative forms. The processes of doing, undoing, and redoing over extended periods of time reenacts the slow, often painful emergence of palpable ideas through memory and speculation. At once familiar and enigmatic, her energetic and restive forms have established a particular and defining presence in the contemporary art world. Her studio is in Brooklyn, New York and she lives in New York City.