Modern Art Monday Presents: Ruth Asawa, Untitled Hanging Wire Sculpture

ruth asawa sculpture photographed by gail worley
All Photos By Gail (Above from 2017)

In 1947, while a student at Back Mountain College, Ruth Asawa (19262013) made a visit to Toluca, Mexico. There, she was introduced to a local method of crocheting wire to create baskets for carrying eggs. The discovery led Asawa to experiment with weaving wire into continuous, organic forms like the above Untitled sculpture (1955), which is described as a hanging six-lobed, complex interlocking continuous form-within-a-form, with two interior spheres. These works challenged conventional ideas of sculpture by embracing utilitarian craft methods and relying on the ceiling instead of the floor for support.

ruth asawa sculpture photo by gail worley
Photographed September 2020

In the early 1950s, Asawa later explained, the art establishment passed over her work because “it wasn’t traditional sculpture. They thought it was craft, or something else, but not art.” For Asawa, woven wire offered many possibilities of form and resulted in a work that was both transparent and airy, qualities that make the surrounding space part of the experience of the work and emphasize the connection between the interior and the exterior of the object.

Photographed in the Whitney Musuem in NYC.

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