As a child, Ursula von Rydingsvard spent time in Nazi labor and post–World War II refugee camps, and some of her earliest recollections are of displacement and hardship. These experiences infuse her work with emotional potency. The artist was initially influenced by Minimalism and worked with welded steel. However, according to von Rydingsvard, the philosophies associated with Minimalism “seemed so cleansed of any kind of sensuality, so controlled.” In 1975, she began employing cedar as her medium of choice, which she continues to use to this day to create a thematically connected, yet surprisingly varied, body of expressionistic, monumental sculptures. Often, she rubs graphite into the surface of the wood to emphasize shadow and depth. As in her sculptural practice, von Rydingsvard allows her drawings to develop intuitively. She merges pigment or charcoal with materials such as resin and silk thread to imbue the composition with tactile qualities. In this work, for example, the artist pushed the limits of paper’s ability to retain information—be it rubbed, embossed, or folded—in a visceral engagement with the process of markmaking.
Label from Drawing: The Beginning of Everything, July 8–October 15, 2017