Ursula von Rydingsvard
Czara z Bąbelkami, 2006

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Czara z Bąbelkami
Artist name
Ursula von Rydingsvard
Date created
202 in. × 125 in. × 74 in. (513.08 cm × 317.5 cm × 187.96 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Joanne and Jeffrey Klein
© Ursula von Rydingsvard
Permanent URL
Artwork status
On view on floor 5 as part of the Rooftop Sculpture Garden installation

Sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard discusses the construction of her monumental work Czara z Babelkami (2006), on view in SFMOMAs fifth-floor sculpture garden. She reflects on how her sculptural practices relate to her family’s history as Polish peasant farmers and World War II refugees, describing a dark past that is still running through her blood.

Audio Stories

The artist on how childhood memories influenced her monumental sculpture

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VON RYDINGSVARD:   Something that I have to have in mind when I start a piece is an image that I have in my head. And I think one of the things that I had in my mind, is a sweater that I used to wear as a little girl, that had  little circular knobbies that were hanging off the surface of that sweater.  Somehow, it influenced that image, because of the comfort I might’ve felt in that sweater. 

I’m Ursula von Rydingsvard, and I’m a sculptor.   

The surfaces of my sculpture, the textures that I put on my sculpture, that that is a huge part of what makes it work for me.  

I think the scale of my work is extraordinarily important.   It can have a great deal of complexity.   It can have a great deal of energy.  And  it envelops the human,  because it’s tall and it’s wide and it makes you pay attention.  Somehow when you can embrace the body, you can also embrace the psyche more effectively.  

I think it’s extremely important for me to be working with my body, for me to be working with my hands.  I do come from a long line of Polish peasant farmers.  I still have this yearning, this opening, this hole in my mind that needs to be filled by what my ancestors did, basically for thousands of years.  They’re still running in my blood.  

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Audio Description

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We’re standing before Ursula von Rydingsvard’s work Czara z Bąbelkami from 2006. This monumental abstract sculpture—nearly 17 feet tall, ten-and-a-half feet wide at the top, and six feet deep—is carved from cedar wood. The word “czara” in the title is Polish for goblet, and the shape of this sculpture resembles the bell of a goblet, curving up wider and wider the higher it rises, with a blunt edge across the top. Besides its overwhelming size, what is most immediately striking is the rough texture of its surface, which is pocked and knobby. The knobs bulge out like barnacles in long, irregular columns from top to bottom. No two knobs are alike, nor is the carved space between these bulges the same at any point. The cedar that the artist used to make this piece began as long narrow beams, which were individually cut with handsaws, then glued and stacked together. The square sides of those beams are still evident in a grid-like pattern of seams, emphasizing the underlying geometry beneath the roughly textured surface.

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Other Works by Ursula von Rydingsvard

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