Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ursula von Rydingsvard At the Sculpture Center(Revised)

The smell of cedar permeates the main gallery of the Sculpture Center. This exhibition showcases sculptural pieces by Ursula von Rydingsvard’s from 1991-2009. One cannot help but be enveloped by the massive wood based sculptures within the gallery. Although the material she uses is consistent the work is varied in its form.

Upon entering the gallery the viewers’ eyes go directly to the center of the space where we are confronted with Wall Pocket. This work is tall, built with layers and layers of cut cedar boards that have been glued together. Through this process of gluing individual boards together there is an opening down the work’s center. This is unusual for von Rydingsvard’s vertical sculptures, as they tend to be closed vessels. It looms over the viewer, as it is nearly two times the size of an average person. Wall Pocket’s texture is heavy and cragged like rock that has been weathered over years. The individual layers of cedar are gashed with the saw blades and cut specifically by von Rydingsvard and her assistants. von Rydingsvard rubs graphite into the surface of her sculptures adding to their worn natural appearance.

Five Lace Medallions is another work imposing in its size. It is however not as striking in its composition. There are five panels each with a lacey topography on the top, and a flat panel from which it emanates. The panels are constructed with multiple cedar boards that have been gouged and drawn on. The panels are leaned up against the galleries wall in a succession. There is a visual disconnect between the projection on the top of the work and the flat, gouged lower area. The drawn elements look to be left over directions for cutting rather than merging seamlessly into the work as a whole.

von Rydingsvard’s Ocean Floor is located in a back room is another work that is spectacular in its size but fails to deliver. The work is boards glued together into a large bowl shape with a cragged exterior. This work seems out of context as much of this exhibition does, these works need to be displayed in nature where her ideas originate. They seem too far removed in the reclaimed factory space of this gallery and seem to cancel each other out because of their grand scale and consistent aesthetic.


  1. “The flatness with the gouging” seems awkward. Why not something more like “the flat, gouged lower area,” which also implies a causal relationship between being first flat, then gouged, as you version did.

    The parts seem to fit together funny in “This work seems out of context as much of this exhibition does, these works need to be displayed in nature where her ideas emanate from,” I add a comma after “context” and a semicolon and some sort of connecting word in the place of the comma that you have. I’d also just use “they” instead of the second “these work” so soon after “this work.”

  2. Your continuous description of the aesthetics of each piece, while
    informative, becomes unjustifiable as it is the one primary argument that
    you use to term the particular works as unimpressive. Perhaps there's more
    than simply the aesthetics that repels you.

    You notably emphasise a lot on the manufacturing methods of the artist's
    works; this apparently seems to have stunted your description of what the
    works ARE aesthetically rather than how they WORK
    least I believe you should provide both angles.

    Otherwise your viewpoints and observant analysis does provide for an
    argumentative review on why the pieces appear out of context and