Sometimes, the smartest person has succeeded in the darkest past.
For the famous American actress Ursula von Rydingsvard – whose single exhibition will open to the public on Saturday April 30 at the Denver Botanic Gardens-born in Germany in 1942, during World War II, marked the horrible beginning of life. The extraordinary painter is the son of a Polish mother and a Ukrainian father – a woodsman from the long line of farmers. In the “little nothings” of the exhibit, the artist showed off his father’s leather aviator -style hat.
In a one-on-one interview with The Denver Gazette, the artist recalled one of his earliest memories of his father during the German Nazi occupation of Poland, where the family lived: “He dug a trench and entered we are children. us with wood. He was trying to keep us safe. There are bombs coming out near us, ”von Rydingsvard said.
Isolated from the destructive acts of war, he grew up to produce art, works of creation. And wood will be his main medium in his emotional art.
But the same advocate father, who was conscripted to work in a forced labor camp, also physically abused the actor and his siblings. The family lived in nine different refugee camps in Germany before moving to the United States in 1950. The artist, seven years old then, remembers being called to the deck of the ship to see the Statue of Liberty.
In the U.S., she fought against poverty, endured prejudices against immigrants, and later broke up as a single mother. But von Rydingsvard eventually earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University in New York City. His dream came true in America.
“I used to sit on benches in Columbia, and my cheeks were blushing, I was so happy,” he said.
In addition to sculpting, von Rydingsvard taught at universities, including Yale. And he established himself as one of the most famous sculptors of our time.
“She’s a rock star in the art world,” said Cynthia Madden Leitner, co-founder and CEO of the Museum of Outdoor Arts (MOA) in Greenwood Village.
Leitner serves on the advisory board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which awarded von Rydingsvard its Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts. The International Sculpture Center also presented their Lifetime Achievement Award to von Rydingsvard. He is a member of the recognized American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Von Rydingsvard’s Art is in the permanent collection of more than 30 well -known museums nationwide including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Metropolitan Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, where the artist lives. and worked for nearly 50 years.
Despite his status as one of the world’s most recognized artists, von Rydingsvard remains humble, soft -spoken, weak. He was small, wearing the black-on-black uniform of New York artists.
“I don’t want to try to teach anyone anything the famous artist said. “I can’t be better. No one is smarter. ”
Unlike his monumental sculptures, the artist has little build even though he has mastered heavy-duty materials and power tools. He typically uses 4 “X 4” cedar beams, circular saws and blow torches to make his sculptures that can weigh hundreds of pounds and require cranes for installation.
In von Rydingvard’s work, enticing textures inform abstract shapes. From the straight-edged rectangular cedar beam he creates undulations and movements, but also fine points. To further enhance wood surfaces, he often addedgraphite that lends a subtle luster.
As a tribute to his heritage, he likely titles his works in native Polish that he prefers not to translate, allowing the art to remain mysterious. “I am Polish. I love Poland, “he said.” I don’t want to say ‘Bowl With Folds’ or something very clear. I haven’t seen art titles that help, but I don’t want to say ‘No Title.’ I don’t want to do that in one piece. It’s too cruel. “
His labor-intensive process is also mysterious, and purely intuitive. He does not use models or sketches.
“I never make drawings that put myself in jail,” he said. “I don’t use words. I listen to visuals.”
He compared his artistry both to that of jazz musicians and medieval artisans.
“It’s not like you fully imagined,” he said. “It’s scary to be incarcerated because you have no possibilities.”
Guest host Mark Rosenthal titled the show “The Contour of Feeling”-a line from Austrian writer Rainer Maria Rilke, one of von Rydingsvard’s favorite authors. Rosenthal, former curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, is dedicated to von Rydingsvard’s works that were completed in this century.
Along with trademark cedar sculptures, the Denver exhibit spotlights work on handmade paper embedded in silk, lace and human hair. The artist’s mixed media showcases factors in everything from personal photographs and knitting to dried cow intestines – a material that inspired her work after she saw in a museum the translucent skins used. of Native Americans.
“I want to work on something disgusting. This is the fourth stomach of a cow,” he said, adding that he sources intestinal material from a sausage factory.
Rosenthal represents the brave actor’s early career with one of his gigantic bowls and a piece of wall.
Said Rosenthal. “Logistical demands mean the show is not chronological. We present a macrocosm and a microcosm of Ursula’s work. What is crucial is her touch, her hands.”
In the digital age of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), von Rydingsvard celebrates handmade and heart-felt. His human touch embraces the natural world and brings out the textures of tree bark or pine cones, the strata of layered lichen or sedimentary rock.
The artist, known for his monumental bronze, copper or cedar and graphite public art, also cast urethane resin. The only outdoor piece in the DBG has a court inside the entrance to the gardens. The large resin sculpture, lit from the inside, glows like glass.
“The resin responds very well to the day,” said the sculptor, “but the only way to really understand it is to see it at night.”
Plastic is a radical departure from its organic materials.
“I don’t want to destroy myself anymore,” said the actor, who now puts only resin or copper on the outside.
“I don’t put cedar. It’s very important to know if the piece is inside or outside, ”von Rydingsvard said.
These days, von Rydingsvard works with a team of three studio assistants who help cut and assemble complex sculptures.
“It’s like a poem that never ends,” von Rydingsvard said.
The actor puts less emphasis on his inspiration but on his driving. A hugely vulnerable element of the show is von Rydingsvard’s long list of why he creates art. At the top of his list: “Most, to survive.”
He survived. He has thrived.
“It’s a longing. You really have to do all this, “he said, pointing to his sculpture standing about 30 ‘tall, a gentle giant. Hundreds of pieces. Thousands of cuts. Patinaed surface characters. A presence at once. -once still deeply moving.
Given her war -haunted youth and personal struggles along with being a woman in an art world that has long been dominated by men, possibilities run against von Rydingsvard’s longing. However, his success was overwhelming with his well -known sculptures.