Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s name did not ring a bell when I first heard of this documentary. But after watching it, I realize I’ve actually seen and loved her work in many of the important museums around the world. Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own makes the case that she should be as well known as many of the other female sculptors of the modern age, like Louise Bourgeois or Louise Nevelson. In this short documentary (it’s just 57 minutes) director Daniel Traub deftly mixes the story of her personal life with the making of her amazing art. She’s one of the few women who make monumental sculptures, and just seeing how it’s done is worth the cost of admission.
She was born during WWII in Poland and spent part of her youth in displaced persons camps before her family emigrated to the United States. It was her experience living in the camps that caused her to begin working with wood. Her monumental cedar sculptures take a whole team of artists to create and assemble. As do her later works with copper and bronze. The process is fascinating. And they are gorgeous!
The film did remind me of another art doc I saw a few years back, Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy. Both of them are mature artists working with nature and natural forms. Both are continuing to expand their repertoires. Both are people I think I’d like to have a cup of tea with or just be a fly on the wall as they create their masterpieces. The film includes some interviews with art world talking heads, but the most interesting parts are when Ursula now in her mid-’70s talks and works. I highly recommend this one to art lovers, whether you know her work or not. I know I want to (re)visit her monumental sculptures now (or when COVID allows.)
Available beginning September 29th in the US and Canada on DVD and VOD (Including: iTunes, Amazon, and Vimeo)