At nearly 10 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and 350 pounds, Ursula von Rydingsvard’s cedar sculpture Plate with Dots is not the kind of piece that merely ties a room together. Rather, it transforms it. The sculpture, which was installed earlier this month in the Abby Lounge, is a gift from former Rockefeller President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and his wife, neuroscientist Mary Hynes. Drs. Tessier-Lavigne and Hynes, who made the gift to express their gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve the university, were inspired to select artwork by Ms. von Rydingsvard because of the similarities they see between her work and that of the university’s scientists.
“Originality, tenacity, and insight—these are all qualities that Ursula shares with Rockefeller scientists,” says Dr. Tessier-Lavigne. “Because of these parallels, because of her connection to the university, and because we love her art so much, Mary and I realized that there couldn’t be a more fitting gift than this exquisite sculpture to express our thanks.”
Ms. von Rydingsvard, who is the wife of Vincent Astor Professor Paul Greengard, creates many of her sculptures using uniform cedar beams, which she shapes, cuts, and assembles. Her sculptures, which tend to be massive, are part of several permanent collections in museums across the country, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Her commissioned works include Ona, a 19-foot-tall bronze sculpture that stands outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In much of her work, Ms. von Rydingsvard begins with an everyday object—a bowl, a plate, or a spoon—and transforms it. In Plate with Dots, completed in 2006, she added a grid of dots to the plate’s large surface, reminiscent of a beloved popcorn-stitch sweater she once had. Although she often coats her sculptures with powdered graphite, she left the cedar on Plate with Dots exposed, giving the sculpture a neutral surface. The result is a dramatic addition to Rockefeller’s art collection.
“We are so excited that the Rockefeller community will be able to enjoy this sculpture every day, and we will love having the opportunity to admire it when we come to campus on our many return trips,” Dr. Tessier-Lavigne says.
Ms. Von Rydingsvard will be the speaker at the next Insight Lecture, on Monday, May 22, at 6:00 p.m. At that time, members of the campus community will have the opportunity to hear Ms. Von Rydingsvard discuss her art and her unique creative process.