Ruth Asawa Exhibition at David Zwirner


Ruth Asawa, David Zwirner, art, sculpture, NYC, Japanese American, WWII, internment, Black Mountain College, exhibition
Ruth Asawa. Photo by Imogen Cunningham.

Ruth Asawa

Wednesday, September 13 through Saturday, October 21
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 13 from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

David Zwirner – 537 W. 20th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues)

Admission: Free

David Zwirner will host the gallery’s first exhibition dedicated to the work of Ruth Asawa since announcing its representation of the artist’s estate earlier this year. The exhibition will bring together a selection of key sculptures, paintings, and works on paper spanning Asawa’s influential practice, as well as rare archival materials, including a group of vintage photographs of the artist and her work by Imogen Cunningham.

Born in rural California, Asawa began to make art while detained in internment camps for Japanese Americans at Santa Anita, California, and Rohwer, Arkansas, where she was sent with her family in 1942-1943. Following her release, she enrolled in Milwaukee State Teachers College, eventually making her way to Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1946, then known for its progressive pedagogical methods and avant-garde aesthetic milieu. Asawa’s time at Black Mountain proved formative in her development as an artist, and she was influenced there in particular by her teachers Josef Albers, Buckminster Fuller, and the mathematician Max Dehn.

Asawa is best known for her extensive body of looped-wire sculptures that challenge conventional notions of material and form through their emphasis on lightness and transparency, which she began making in the late 1940s while still a student at Black Mountain. Their unique structure was inspired by a 1947 trip to Mexico, during which local craftsmen taught her how to create baskets out of wire.

Asawa executed her looped-wire sculptures in a number of complex, interwoven configurations throughout her career, a variety of which will be on view in the exhibition. These range from small spheres to long, elaborate examples of the artist’s “form within a form” compositions, in which she created nested shapes from a single continuous line of looped wire; as well as lesser-known forms including hyperbolic shapes, suspended cones, and interlocking spheres.

Also on view will be examples of Asawa’s related tied-wire sculptures, a series begun in 1962, which like much of her oeuvre explore organic forms and processes. A selection of the artist’s rarely seen paintings and works on paper, executed during her time at Black Mountain, will be presented alongside her three-dimensional works.

On the occasion of the exhibition, a monographic catalogue will be published by David Zwirner Books, which will include new scholarship on Asawa’s groundbreaking body of work by art historian Tiffany Bell, as well as an essay by Robert Storr, and an illustrated chronology.

Asawa’s work will concurrently be on view in Josef and Anni and Ruth and Ray, the inaugural exhibition at David Zwirner’s new Upper East Side location at 34 East 69th Street.

For more information, please visit David Zwirner’s website.