Ruth Asawa: Life’s Work
Tamara H. Schenkenberg
Publisher: Yale University Press / Pulitzer Arts Foundation
Notes: 160 pages, 100 color illus, hardcover. 9.25 inches x 11 inches.
About the publication: Ruth Asawa: Life’s Work, co-published by Yale University Press, is a fully illustrated catalogue, including essays by Aruna D’Souza, Helen Molesworth, and Tamara H. Schenkenberg, and several installation images of Asawa’s work at the Pulitzer.
Throughout her long and prolific career American artist Ruth Asawa (1926–2013) developed innovative sculptures in wire, a medium she explored through increasingly complex forms using craft-based techniques she learned while traveling in Mexico in 1947. In 1949, after studying at Black Mountain College, Asawa moved to San Francisco and created dozens of wire works, among them an iconic bronze fountain–the first of many public commissions–for the city’s Ghirardelli Square.
Bringing together examples from across Asawa’s full and extraordinary career, this expansive volume serves as an unprecedented reorientation of her sculptures within the historical context of 20th-century art. In particular, it includes careful consideration of Asawa’s advocacy for arts education in public schools, while simultaneously focusing on her vital–and long under-recognized–contributions to the field of sculpture. Insightful essays explore the intersection of formal experimentation and identity to offer a fresh assessment of this celebrated artist. Richly illustrated with exquisite new installation views, Ruth Asawa: Life’s Work introduces original scholarship that traces the dynamic evolution of form in the artist’s work. *via Pulitzer Arts Foundation
Why it’s worth your time: Do you find yourself bombarded by woven light sculptures and their cheap counterparts on every home design program you watch or in every online editorial you happen to come across? Though the light fixtures are made of natural materials, it is likely their rotund silhouettes were somewhat informed by Ruth Asawa’s much more complex and incredible wire sculptures. This trending return to artisinal work and an appreciation for organic form has bubbled over the last few years and spilled into everyday households–if for at least this reason, this book is a must-have. But if I gave that reason only, it would discount the prolific work of Asawa. Ruth Asawa should be a name we all know–her work is vital in our appreciation and understanding for 20th century art and prevalent in modern design and its contemporary interpretations.
Ruth Asawa: Life’s Work provides a beautiful and comprehensive view of the artist’s lifelong career and offers a proper celebration of her impact on modern art in a beautifully illustrated and printed package.