Video courtesy of David Zwirner
In September and October 2017, “Ruth Asawa” at the David Zwirner Gallery on 20th Street in New York brings together a selection of key sculptures, paintings, and works on paper, as well as rare archival materials, including a group of vintage photographs of the artist and her work by Imogen Cunningham. The well-received and popular show runs until 10/21/17.
Curated and installed by Jonathan Laib, who has grown a deep and lasting relationship to her work since his introduction in 2009, “Ruth Asawa” is the first solo exhibition at the Zwirner Gallery. A catalogue, including essays by Robert Storr and Tiffany Bell, will be published in Spring 2018. Critical response to the installation has spurred commentary about rewriting art history to include artists who may not have been included because of bias, as well as thoughts on the blurring of lines between museum and gallery exhibitions. The following reviews explore both themes.
“What’s so interesting is that we’re at a period now when we’re constantly casting a backward revisionist glance to the art of the 50’s trying to find the artists who were overlooked because of sexism or racism… Ruth Asawa … she just jumps out as someone who is so deserving of being included in the art history canon, and I do think this show will absolutely elevate her reputation internationally.”— Deborah Solomon, art critic for WNYC
From the 9/21/17 The New York Review of Books:
“When the artist debuted her wire sculptures in New York in the Fifties, critics dismissed them as decorative or housewifely. ‘These are ‘domestic’ sculptures in a feminine handiwork mode,’ wrote one critic in a 1956 ARTNews review. Because Asawa worked with common materials, twisting copper and iron into undulating forms, her art is often scoffingly associated with that art-world anathema: ‘craft.’ And so a three-room exhibition of Asawa’s works at David Zwirner cannot help but feel restorative, an opportunity to reassess both the expansiveness and consistency of her vision.” —Zack Hatfield, The New York Review of Books:
From the 10/9/17 issue of The New Yorker:
“Part of me wishes that a museum had mounted this museum-quality show, perhaps the Whitney or moma, two institutions that have sensitively contextualized Asawa’s work in recent group exhibitions. But such gripes melt away in the presence of an ethereal copper-and-iron-wire concatenation from 1954—seven interconnected orbs, two of which surround smaller spheres like translucent cocoons. It hangs in front of a window overlooking a garden, enmeshing nature and art. Asawa, whose muses included sunlight on a dragonfly’s wing, would surely approve.” —Andrea K. Scott, art editor of Goings On About Town