The Modernist Forms of Ruth Duckworth

The Modernist Forms of Ruth Duckworth

Ruth Duckworth's Untitled (Five Porcelain Forms)

Untitled (Five Porcelain Forms) (1985) by Ruth Duckworth; porcelain; thrown, altered, with slab elements; ranging in size from 6 x 3.5 x 3 in. to 8 x 7.5 x 3.5 in.

Born Ruth Windmüller on this day in 1919 in Hamburg, Germany, Ruth Duckworth was one of the 20th century's most significant female sculptors. She was known for contrstucting both large-scale modernist forms in stone, bronze, and clay, as well as small and delicate porcelain abstractions (see: Untitled: Five Porcelain Forms).

"Between these extremes of scale the touch of her hand has created a rich body of work which is exhaustive in its variety but also uniquely her own. In the presence of Ruth Duckworth's remarkble clay sculptures the timeworn question: 'Is it Craft or is it Art?' evaporates into thin air," wrote sculptor Martin Puryear in the catalogue for the 2005 retrospective "Ruth Duckworth: Modernist Sculptor."   

Duckworth, an American Craft Council Gold Medalist, died five years ago, but her works continue to inspire innovation in the use of materials and the structure of forms. Look for her work at museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago - or check out this video tribute as we celebrate her contributions to the craft field. 

Throwback Thursday is a weekly series highlighting visuals from the American Craft Council Library's Digital Collections database. Check back on Thursdays for more.