04 Mar 2024

Ursula von Rydingsvard’s Sculpture on View at Harvard Business School


BOSTON—In celebration of Women’s History Month, Harvard Business School (HBS) is delighted to announce the 2023-2025 exhibition supported by the C. Ludens Ringnes Sculpture Collection at Harvard Business School, which features a sculpture by artist Ursula von Rydingsvard, one of the few women working in monumental sculpture.

Ursula von Rydingsvard (American, born 1942), Elegantka II, 2013–14 / 2016, urethane resin, 126 x 46 x 46 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Lelong & Co., New York. © Ursula von Rydingsvard.

Ursula von Rydingsvard (née Karoliszyn) was born in 1942 in Deensen, Germany, the fifth of seven children, to a Polish mother and Ukrainian father who were brought there as forced labor during World War II. After the war, the family was moved through a series of refugee camps before emigrating to New York by ship in 1950 and settling in Plainville, Connecticut.

Best known for her tactile and large (often monumental) sculptures painstakingly cut, stacked, and assembled from cedar beams, von Rydingsvard studied sculpture at Columbia University, where she earned a master’s degree in studio art in 1975. Elegantka II (2013–14/2016) is a urethane resin cast of one of her cedar works, whose parts were laboriously carved with a circular saw and then stacked. Composed using vertical cuts that she has described as “feathers of a wet bird,” these resin forms explore the possibilities of light and play with the “lost-wax” process, with the cedar providing the form for the resin cast. The resultant shimmering, crystalline spiral is then electrified and illuminated from within, emanating a subtle glow at evening.

Von Rydingsvard has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Rappaport Prize, an annual art award presented by the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; the 2014 International Sculpture Center Annual Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award; the 2019 National Museum of Women in the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in the Arts; and the 2021 Gold Medal for Merit to Culture—Gloria Artis, of the Ministry of Culture, National Heritage, and Sport, in Warsaw, Poland. She currently lives and works in New York, and is represented by Galerie Lelong & Co.

“Her sculpture joins a remarkable collection of objects and architecture on the HBS campus. They are striking pieces that immediately capture the eye,” said Gabe Handel, assistant dean for administrative and educational affairs. “Works like Elegantka II can spark creative thinking, challenge preconceptions, start conversations, and foster appreciation for art and artists, all which we hope will happen as the community experiences them across the seasons and throughout their exhibition.

In conjunction with this exhibition, on March 7, 2024, the HBS Art Program and HBS Connects will be hosting a film screening of the 2019 documentary, Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own in Klarman Hall at Harvard Business School. This live, in-person event is free and open to the Harvard community and the public. Registration is required.

HBS collects and exhibits contemporary art to create an engaging and stimulating environment for the community and those who visit the campus. More information on the HBS Art Program can be found on the Baker Library website, which includes a map highlighting sculptures currently on view across the HBS campus.


Mark Cautela

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.