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Ruth Duckworth, Modernist Sculptor
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
In a career spanning more than six decades, Ruth Duckworth has created an immense and important body of work that extends and enriches the modernist canon. Her ambition, intensity, and defiance of convention have governed her personal journey as well as her prodigious artistic output. Forced to flee from Nazi Germany, Duckworth emigrated to England at the outset of World War II, when she was seventeen years old. While enduring wartime hardships she studied drawing, painting, and sculpture at art schools in Liverpool and London. Although Duckworth had explored stone and wood carving as well as metal casting, she decided to focus on ceramics in the mid-1950s. Consequently she enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London's premier ceramics school.

At the Central School, Duckworth received encouragement from her teachers, who offered excellent training and artistic freedom. She soon demonstrated her facility with clay as she investigated both stoneware and porcelain. Duckworth began to create vessels and sculptures that were radically freeform, organic, and liberated from the tyranny of function. Most importantly, she demonstrated that clay was a viable medium for sculpture.

In 1964 Duckworth accepted a teaching post at the University of Chicago's Midway Studios. She remained there through the next decade, eventually deciding to settle permanently in the United States, her third homeland.

Now in her mid-eighties, Duckworth is recognized as one of the twentieth century's most innovative and important sculptors. A true alchemist of abstraction, she has consistently produced boundary-crossing work that is both elegant and uplifting. The vessels, sculptures, and wall murals in this exhibition exemplify the seductive refinement, austere power, and radiant immediacy that masterfully continue the aesthetics of modernism into the twenty-first century.

About the Exhibition  Untitled [spade sculpture], porcelain, 1990.
About the Exhibition  Untitled [pair of cup-and-blade works], porcelain, c. 1997, Museum of Arts and Design, NYC.