This landmark exhibition of monumental sculptures by Ursula von Rydingsvard (b. 1942, Deensen, Germany) illuminates the process by which the artist gives outward visual form to her ideas and emotions. Expressive cedar sculptures are accompanied by poetic explorations in paper pulp, leather, linen, and other organic materials. With an emphasis on her work since 2000, The Contour of Feeling marks the most ambitious presentation of von Rydingsvard’s art in the United States, and her first solo exhibition in Washington, D.C.
The daughter of a woodcutter from a long line of peasant farmers, von Rydingsvard spent several of her early years in the wooden barracks of refugee camps in Germany at the end of World War II. Her works offer subtle hints of biographical, religious, or cultural references, while deliberately remaining abstract and evocative.
Each of the large-scale sculptures involves a labor-intensive, yet intuitive, process that can take nearly a year to complete. Wearing safety gear and wielding heavy machinery, von Rydingsvard and her team saw, slice, stack, glue, and mark the works with graphite before assembling their final forms. Towering vertical structures, sprawling floor-based works, and expansive wall constructions inspire awe and introspection.