Tiffany Bell, Robert Storr
David Zwirner Books, 2019
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.