Texts by Tiffany Bell and Robert Storr
Known for her extensive body of intricate and dynamic wire sculptures, American sculptor, educator, and arts activist Ruth Asawa challenged conventional notions of material and form through her emphasis on lightness and transparency.
Asawa began her now iconic looped-wire works in the late 1940s while still a student at Black Mountain College. Their unique structure was inspired by a 1947 trip to Mexico, during which local craftsmen taught her how to create baskets out of wire. While seemingly unrelated to the lessons of color and composition taught in Josef Albers’s legendary Basic Design course, these works, as she explained, are firmly grounded in his teachings in their use of unexpected materials and their elision of figure and ground.
Presenting an important and timely overview of the artist’s work, this monograph brings together a broad selection of her sculptures, works on paper, and more. Together the body of work demonstrates the centrality of Asawa’s innovative practice to the art-historical legacy of the twentieth century. In addition to an incredible group of photographs of the artist and her work by Imogen Cunningham, a selection of rare archival materials will illustrate a chronology of the artist’s life and work. Featuring an extensive text by Tiffany Bell which explores the artist’s influences, history, and, most importantly, the work itself, as well as a significant essay by Robert Storr discussing Asawa’s work in relation to mid-twentieth century art history, culture, and scientific theory.
Publisher: David Zwirner Books
Artists: Ruth Asawa
Contributors: Tiffany Bell, Robert Storr
Designer: McCall Associates
Printer: VeronaLibri, Italy
Publication Date: 2018
Dimensions: 8 ½ × 13 ¼ in | 21.6 × 33.7 cm
Reproductions: 104 color, 21 b&w
Retail: $75 | £60
Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) has exhibited widely throughout the world since the early 1950s. In 1965, Walter Hopps organized a solo exhibition of the artist’s sculptures and drawings at the Pasadena Art Museum (now Norton Simon Museum) in California, where the artist completed a residency at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop the same year. Other solo presentations include those held at the San Francisco Museum of Art (1973); Fresno Art Museum, California (traveled to Oakland Museum of California; 2001-2002); de Young Museum, San Francisco (2006); Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas (2012); and Norton Simon Museum of Art, California (2014).
Tiffany Bell is an independent art curator and writer. She is currently working as the editor of the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné and has just completed the first volume, a digital publication, which includes Martin’s paintings, constructions, and film (2017). She continues work on the second volume that will include Martin’s unique works on paper. She was recently co-curator of the 2015–2017 traveling retrospective of Agnes Martin’s art that visited the Tate Modern in London, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Düsseldorf, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Previously, she was the director of the Dan Flavin Catalogue Raisonné project, which resulted in the publication of Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961–1996 (2004), and served as curator for several museum and gallery exhibitions of Flavin’s lights, including Dan Flavin: Series and Progressions held at David Zwirner in 2009. Bell has taught in the art department at Pratt Institute and has worked for many years as a freelance curator and art critic with articles appearing in Art in America, Arts Magazine, and Artforum, among other publications.
Robert Storr is an artist, critic, and curator. He was formerly the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Dean of the Yale School of Art, and Senior Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where in 1996 he co-organized From Bauhaus to Pop: Masterworks Given by Philip Johnson, amongst numerous exhibitions. In 2002, he was named the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He has also taught at the CUNY Graduate Center, Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, New York Studio School, and Harvard University, and has been a frequent lecturer in the United States and abroad. From 2005 to 2007, he was Director of Visual Art for the Venice Biennale, the first American invited to assume that position. The exhibition he organized at David Zwirner in the fall of 2013 to celebrate the centenary of Ad Reinhardt was voted “Best Show in a Commercial Space in New York” by the U.S. Art Critics Association.