Two major acquisitions strengthen Rice Public Art

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations

PRESS RELEASE

Katharine Shilcutt
713-348-6760
kshilcutt@rice.edu

Two major acquisitions strengthen Rice Public Art
Permanent works by Sol LeWitt and Ursula von Rydingsvard will debut this year

HOUSTON – (March 1, 2019) – Two new acquisitions by Rice Public Art are poised to dramatically strengthen and diversify the university’s collection of exceptional public artwork.

Malutka II, a 7-foot piece carved from cedar and then cast in bronze, will soon occupy a space under one of the broad-canopied oaks outside Allen Center.

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Malutka II, 2018, Bronze, 70 3/8 x 53 3/16 x 37 inches (178.8 x 135.1 x 94 cm)

A new bronze sculpture by Ursula von Rydingsvard will be installed this spring. It represents the first outdoor sculpture by a woman to be permanently displayed on the Rice campus and will be the world-renowned artist’s first public work in Houston.

The second major addition is a late-career wall drawing by celebrated American artist Sol LeWitt, widely viewed as one of the most influential artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is the first work of conceptual art to enter the Rice Public Art collection and will be installed at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies this fall.

Von Rydingsvard’s Malutka II, a 7-foot sculpture first carved from cedar and then cast in bronze, will occupy a grassy space near the entrance to the Cambridge Office Building, across a tree-lined courtyard from the Allen Center, the university’s administrative headquarters. Best known for sculptures of massive scale, the artist selected an appropriate title for her smaller work at Rice. The feminine form of “little one” in Polish, Malutka is the most recent work in the artist’s impressive four-decade career and her first small-scale bronze sculpture.

Born in 1942 to Polish parents who farmed in Germany before fleeing to a series of refugee camps after World War II, von Rydingsvard hails from a long line of “peasants” with an innate connection to the earth. This informs her work in manifold ways. She stacks cedar planks into unique forms, tracing curves and outlines onto each one as she goes, never pre-planning the sculpture’s ultimate form before it’s carved or cast.

Born in 1942 to Polish parents who toiled for years in German refugee camps, Ursula von Rydingsvard hails from a long line of “peasants” with an innate connection to the earth.

Born in 1942 to Polish parents who toiled for years in German refugee camps, Ursula von Rydingsvard hails from a long line of “peasants” with an innate connection to the earth.

“That would take the life out of it,” the artist says.

The patina on the surface of the work is created by hand through chemicals and a blow torch, resulting in a variegated and visually dynamic surface.

“Ursula von Rydingsvard is one of the most important sculptors working today,” said Alison Weaver, executive director of the Moody Center for the Arts, who oversees Rice’s public art program. “We are delighted to be able to add Malutka II to Rice’s growing public art collection. Like the trees on campus, it will become a welcoming beacon for both students and visitors.”

The acquisition of von Rydingsvard’s work is made possible by the half-percent-for-art program, established by President David Leebron in 2008, which has led to the commission of important public artwork on campus by Leo Villareal, Dana Frankfort, Debra Barrera, Aurora Robson and James Surls, among others.

Across campus at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, “Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color” (2004) by the late LeWitt will be installed this fall in the Dean’s Commons of the Anderson-Clarke Center.

A gift of Rice alumnus H. Russell Pitman ’58, “Wall Drawing #1115” underscores the intellectual rigor and nature of collaboration that takes place at Rice. The work was first conceived and installed in 2004, shortly before the artist’s death in 2007.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color, 2014, Acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Gift of Russell H. Pitman. © Estate of Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color, 2014, Acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Gift of Russell H. Pitman. © Estate of Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

In the Summer 1967 issue of Artforum, LeWitt published his pioneering “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art” in which he wrote: “In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. … The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” These foundational statements are reflected in LeWitt’s groundbreaking body of wall drawings, which have been executed by professionals other than the artist since the first works were drafted at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York in 1965.

Comprising more than 1,270 individual works, LeWitt’s collection of wall drawings is among the most significant and influential bodies of work ever produced by an American artist.

“This important work by Sol LeWitt will add an unprecedented level of energy and dynamism to the Dean’s Commons and be enjoyed by students and visitors alike,” said Robert Bruce, dean of the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. “We couldn’t be more grateful for Russ Pitman’s generous gift, which will positively impact the life of the campus for years to come.”

To celebrate this permanent addition to the Rice Public Art collection and its installation at the Anderson-Clarke Center, the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies will organize a series of dynamic public programs in conjunction with its public debut. LeWitt’s body of work, and the notions of conceptual and creative collaboration evident in it, will also be reflected in fall curriculum and activities taking place at the Glasscock School.

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This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related information:

Moody Center for the Arts: moody.rice.edu

Rice Public Art: moody.rice.edu/about-rice-public-art

Glasscock School for Continuing Studies: glasscock.rice.edu

Ursula von Rydingsvard, Malutka II, 2018, Bronze, 70 3/8 x 53 3/16 x 37 inches (178.8 x 135.1 x 94 cm)

Malutka II, a 7-foot piece carved from cedar and then cast in bronze, will soon occupy a space under one of the broad-canopied oaks outside Allen Center.

Photo link: https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/news-network.rice.edu/dist/c/2/files/2019/02/GL_12596_-_Malutka_II-1w9wbqi.jpg

Ursula von Rydingsvard

Born in 1942 to Polish parents who toiled for years in German refugee camps, Ursula von Rydingsvard hails from a long line of “peasants” with an innate connection to the earth.

Photo link: https://cpb-us-e1.wpmucdn.com/news-network.rice.edu/dist/c/2/files/2019/02/Ursula-von-Rydingsvard-passport-2277ggc.jpg

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color, 2014, Acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Gift of Russell H. Pitman. © Estate of Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #1115: Circle within a square, each with broken bands of color, 2014, Acrylic paint, dimensions variable. Gift of Russell H. Pitman. © Estate of Sol LeWitt / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Photo link: https://news.rice.edu/files/2019/02/WD-1115-151huye.jpg

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.