Ursula von Rydingsvard emigrated from Germany to the United States with her family in 1950. She had spent the first eight years of her life in refugee camps for displaced persons after World War II. Her childhood memories of places and objects in the camp barracks where she lived informed her art when she turned to carved milled cedar sculpture in 1975. She received her M.F.A. from Columbia in 1978 and has remained in New York since then.
Von Rydingsvard's massive wood sculptures are scaled both for gallery and outdoor installations. Hand-worked by the artist, they evoke everyday objects, the human figure, and the processes of nature in a rough-hewn, abstract style. Holding an ambiguous identity between man-made and natural forms, they shift in appearance between animal, vegetable, mineral, and geometric form. The results are primal shapes of great presence that tug at the viewer's imagination.
Friedman, Martin. Ursula von Rydingsvard: Sculpture. Madison Art Center (now Madison Museum of Contemporary Art), 1998.
Megerian, Maureen and Michael Brenson. Ursula von Rydingsvard: Sculpture. Mountainville, New York: Storm King Center, 1992. Exhibition catalogue.
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Krasavica, 1992-93, cedar and graphite, 54 x 205 3/4 x 59 inches. Collection of Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Madison Art Center Purchase Fund. 1998.05a-e © Ursula von Rydingsvard.
Ursula von Rydingsvard. Photograph by John Townsend. Courtesy of the artist.