I always go to art shows my daughter tells me to see. Even if she can’t see them, I go and report back. They are consistently that extra notch above cool.
The thing about galleries in NYC is that shows open and close at different times. Museums are easy as shows are up for a long chunk of time, but you can’t go to Chelsea and see all the art that is going on for the month, and then go down to Tribeca, the East Village or Uptown and see all the shows on your want to see list. There are openings and closings all the time. I had been to Chelsea several times already my past trip but wanted to see Ursula von Rydingsvard’s solo exhibition, LUBA, before leaving town.
At the entrance of the gallery there is a large bronze piece, the only bronze in the show. The texture and colors are magnificent. I really wanted to touch it. I did not.
Walking into the main gallery, I had one of my out loud “wow” reactions. I walked past each piece slowly, and circled back through several times, admiring the large work and trying to imagine her creating them. Originally from Germany, von Rydingsvard has lived in New York City for 49 years. She was born in 1942. She’s 80! So, while I was in awe of her entire career of accomplishment, there is something truly special about her having produced this amount of extraordinary and monumental work so recently. I absolutely loved being there in the gallery, amidst it all.
“Over a remarkable five-decade-long career, Ursula von Rydingsvard has become one of the most influential sculptors working today. She is best known for creating large-scale, often monumental sculpture from cedar beams, which she painstakingly cuts and assembles before finally rubbing a graphite patina into the work’s textured, faceted surfaces. Her signature abstract shapes refer to things in the real world—vessels, bowls, tools, and other objects—each revealing the mark of the human hand while also summoning natural forms and forces. In recent years, von Rydingsvard has explored other mediums in depth, such as bronze, paper, and resin, continuing to expand upon her unique artistic vocabulary. The artist’s large-scale bronze works can be found in many public spaces.” (Galerie Lelong & Co.)
There is a side gallery that has five works on paper, along with another sculpture.
I went to Princeton the day after seeing the exhibition. I’ve explored the campus more times than I remember as my middle child Harrison went to college there. My youngest son Malcolm had a regatta there that weekend, and we had all gone for the day. As Harrison was driving us to campus so we could walk around a bit on what was a beautiful Fall day, out the left side of the car was a huge von Rydingsvard sculpture! How had I not seen it before? He kindly screeched to a stop, and I ran out of the car to look at the piece up close. My poor kids, they are all so kind to their crazy mom!
For those wondering, as much as I would have liked to, I don’t touch public art either.
“Von Rydingsvard’s work is represented in the permanent collections of 40 museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri; Storm King Art Center, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Permanent commissioned sculptures by von Rydingsvard are on view in multiple public locations including the San Francisco International Airport, California; Stanford University, Palo Alto, California; Princeton University, New Jersey; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; Bloomberg Corporation, New York; and Barclays Center, New York; among others. Recent solo museum exhibitions include Ursula von Rydingsvard: Nothing but Art, a touring retrospective in Poland that was held at the Centre of Polish Sculpture, Orońsko; Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw, and National Museum in Krakow; Ursula von Rydingsvard: The Contour of Feeling at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Pennsylvania; Now, She, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK and a solo presentation at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy. A documentary feature about the artist’s practice Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own was released in 2019.” (Galerie Lelong & Co.)
The show in NYC at Galerie Lelong & Co. is open through December 17, 2022. I’ll be going to see it again when I’m back in town next week.
I added the book Ursula von Rydingsvard: Working to my art book collection, which I bought directly at the gallery.