Ruth Asawa (American, 1926–2013) was a pioneering modern artist best known for her innovative abstract wire sculptures. Born in California to Japanese immigrants, Asawa was affected by her experiences as a Japanese American in the twentieth century, which impacted her opportunities and her reception as an artist. Many reviews of her work—from the earliest exhibitions to her last public commissions—often invoked her Japanese heritage as if it would unlock the meaning of her art. Asawa, however, regarded herself as a “citizen of the universe,” saying, “I don’t think of myself as Japanese. I think of myself as somebody with an idea, a human idea rather than an ethnic idea.” Indeed, her sculptures—which achieve a transcendent blend of complexity and simplicity, light and shadow, form and space—communicate a uniquely expansive vision.
To view Ruth Asawa's works in person, plan your next visit to the de Young museum.
All content adapted from: Asawa, Ruth, and Daniell Cornell. "The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air." San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2006. All artworks © Estate of Ruth Asawa