Washington, DC

Ursula von Rydingsvard, SCRATCH II, 2015, cedar and graphite, 10' 1“ × 6' 3” × 4' 11".

Ursula von Rydingsvard

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Monumental sculpture has a way of imposing its will. It rears up and demands to be seen, often crowding out delicacy with bold gestures. Ursula von Rydingsvard’s sculptures resist the heavy-handedness of monuments. The artist works in cedar, gluing together planks and stone-shaped chunks until the wood looks pixelated, like glitchy flotsam that’s drifted onto a screen. The surfaces are coarse, scarred, and stained in places with the coal-colored sheen of graphite. Most of the sculptures are outsize indoors—the intimate galleries of the National Museum of Women in the Arts being far from the fields and parks where von Rydingsvard’s sculptures are often shown—but, especially given their materials, the sculptures seem more naturally grown than monumentally conceived.

In the first room of the exhibition, there are five sculptures. Three reach from floor to ceiling and take on girth as they

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