556

RUTH ASAWA
California/North Carolina, 1926-2013

Untitled (freestanding basket), late 1940s. Exhibited by Sillman and McNair Associates, New Haven, Connecticut in the fall of 1953. Afterward owned by Sewell Sillman and James McNair. Four photographs and two floor plans documenting the show, along with a 2009 email from McNair with additional images, accompany the lot.
Sewell Sillman (1924-1992) attended Black Mountain College with Asawa and the two remained friends. When Josef Albers left Black Mountain College, Sillman followed his teacher and mentor to Yale University, earning a B.F.A. in 1951, an M.F.A. in 1953 and remaining on the faculty until 1966. The Ruth Asawa Papers at Green Library, Stanford University also reference the Sillman and McNair Associates show.
Ruth Asawa began creating sinuous woven wire sculptures in the 1940s, while a student at Black Mountain College. In a New York Times she is quoted as saying, "I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It's still transparent."

She was born in Norwalk, California, the child of Japanese immigrants. During World War II she and her large family were interred under Executive Order 9066, first at a hastily erected camp at the Santa Anita racetrack, then at the Rowhwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.

Asawa was encouraged to pursue her interest in art throughout her childhood. Following graduation from the internment center's high school, she attended Milwaukee State Teachers College with the intent of becoming an art teacher. While studying in Mexico before her final year of college Asawa met designer Clara Porset, who in turn introduced her to Josef Albers, who was teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Asawa studied under Albers from 1946 to 1949.

The wire sculptures that she began creating in the 1940s attained prominence in the 1950s, and her work appeared several times at the Whitney Museum. In the next decades her work became increasingly geometric and abstract.

Notably, Asawa was a passionate advocate for art education. She served on the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and was the driving force behind the creation of the San Francisco School of the Arts, later renamed in her honor.


Woven enameled copper wire, height 6". Width 14.5".

California/North Carolina, 1926-2013
Untitled (freestanding basket), late 1940s. Exhibited by Sillman and McNair Associates, New Haven, Connecticut in the fall of 1953. Afterward owned by Sewell Sillman and James McNair. Four photographs and two floor plans documenting the show, along with a 2009 email from McNair with additional images, accompany the lot.
Sewell Sillman (1924-1992) attended Black Mountain College with Asawa and the two remained friends. When Josef Albers left Black Mountain College, Sillman followed his teacher and mentor to Yale University, earning a B.F.A. in 1951, an M.F.A. in 1953 and remaining on the faculty until 1966. The Ruth Asawa Papers at Green Library, Stanford University also reference the Sillman and McNair Associates show.
Ruth Asawa began creating sinuous woven wire sculptures in the 1940s, while a student at Black Mountain College. In a New York Times she is quoted as saying, "I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It's still transparent."

She was born in Norwalk, California, the child of Japanese immigrants. During World War II she and her large family were interred under Executive Order 9066, first at a hastily erected camp at the Santa Anita racetrack, then at the Rowhwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.

Asawa was encouraged to pursue her interest in art throughout her childhood. Following graduation from the internment center's high school, she attended Milwaukee State Teachers College with the intent of becoming an art teacher. While studying in Mexico before her final year of college Asawa met designer Clara Porset, who in turn introduced her to Josef Albers, who was teaching at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. Asawa studied under Albers from 1946 to 1949.

The wire sculptures that she began creating in the 1940s attained prominence in the 1950s, and her work appeared several times at the Whitney Museum. In the next decades her work became increasingly geometric and abstract.

Notably, Asawa was a passionate advocate for art education. She served on the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and was the driving force behind the creation of the San Francisco School of the Arts, later renamed in her honor.


Woven enameled copper wire, height 6". Width 14.5".
Condition: Scattered loss to enamel and oxidation commensurate with age. No damages or restoration.


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