Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own ~ a Documentary Film by Daniel Traub




Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own

URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN is an artistic biography of one of the few women in the world working in monumental sculpture. Von Rydingsvard’s work has been featured in the Venice Biennale and is held in the collections of some of the world’s great museums, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But she may be best-known for her staggering, triumphant body of work in public spaces – imposing pieces painstakingly crafted with complex surfaces including: a series of early installations reminiscent of wings in what became New York’s Battery Park; a monumental yet inviting piece outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the stunning “Scientia” at M.I.T. which evokes the power of nature and the firing of brain synapses.

Above, Von Rydingsvard working on the patina of Uroda, a monumental copper sculpture commissioned by Princeton University, 2015.

In Daniel Traub’s intimate documentary, we go behind the scenes with von Rydingsvard, as she and her collaborators – cutters, metal-smiths, and others – produce new work, including challenging commissions in copper and bronze. The film also delves into the artist’s personal life, and how it has shaped her work. Born in Poland during the Second World War, she was partly raised in a displaced persons camp and came to the US as a refugee with her nine-person family. Brought up in a blue-collar environment, she became a teacher and then, as a single mother, moved to New York in the 1970s to take up her artistic practice full-time.

Von Rydingsvard drawing cut lines on 4×4 cedar beams which will later be cut with a chainsaw by her assistants 2015

Interviews with curators, patrons, family, fellow artists (including luminaries such as artist Sarah Sze and museum director Adam Weinberg), as well as the artist herself, are intertwined with studio visits and behind-the-scenes footage of her mammoth creations being installed. All combine to show how, through sheer talent and determination (and countless planks of cedar), she has become one of the world’s greatest artists (and one of a very few women) working in monumental sculpture. 

Von Rydingsvard working on the patina of Uroda, a monumental copper sculpture commissioned by Princeton University, 2015.

Daniel Traub is a New York-based filmmaker and photographer. He lived in China from 1998 to 2007, working as cinematographer on documentary films for various networks and production companies, including PBS, German television ZDF and Arte. More recently, Traub directed the feature-length Barefoot Artist about Lily Yeh and her collaborative artworks in war-torn communities and Xu Bing: Phoenix about the condition of Chinese migrant laborers. 

Von Rydingsvard in her Williamsburg studio on South 5th Street, surrounded by the cedar cast of Katul Katul, 2002

Traub’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Slought Foundation in Philadelphia and the Lianzhou Foto Festival in China. His work can be found in public and private collections, such as The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own, a film by Daniel Traub. 57 minutes. An Icarus Films release available September 29, 2020.

Ursula von Rydingsvard commissioned sculpture in the first floor walkway of Bloomberg Corporate Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan

Von Rydingsvard’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries worldwide, as well as in the permanent collection of over thirty museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Storm King Art Center, and Detroit Institute of Arts. Permanent sculptures are in the collection of the Microsoft Corporation and Bloomberg Corporation.

Looking back at the Museum of Arts and Design, “In the Studio with Ursula von Rydingsvard,”  and four installations in Madison Square Park in 2006/2007.