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‘Drawing was her center of gravity’: another side of sculptor Ruth Asawa

The artist, best-known for elaborate wire sculptures, has a new exhibition at the Whitney highlighting lesser-known drawings

“Drawing, always, was the through line.” So concludes Whitney curator Kim Conaty in her introductory essay to the catalogue for the exhibition Ruth Asawa Through Line, which she co-curated with the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston. Among other things, Ruth Asawa Through Line seeks to demonstrate the centrality of the daily practice of drawing to both Asawa’s life and her artistic world.

Asawa is best-known for her elaborate hanging wire sculptures – sinuous, organic-like forms that stretch on and on in intricate, interleaved chambers, bearing a mysterious presence and casting extraordinary shadows. She began experimenting with them in the 1940s while a student at Black Mountain College, studying under the likes of Josef Albers, Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller, and she began earning substantial attention for her sculptures throughout the 1950s.

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