Ogromna. What’s in a name? By any other, this imposing work by sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard would likely be just as beguiling. And the artist herself tells us not to read too much into the work’s title, apart from its linguistic nod to femininity.
At first blush Ogromna’s indelicate silhouette seems anything but. Femininity, though, is so much more than the figural. It’s imbedded in a gendered history that is social, personal—even literary. So to me Ogromna is inseparable from the artist’s own memory, irrespective of intent. Von Rydingsvard was born as the Second World War was raging into its third year in Deensen, Germany. Exiled from her homeland after the German occupation of Poland, the artist as a young girl lived with her family in eight different postwar refugee camps before immigrating to the United States in 1950. But Von Rydingsvard’s early history seems to have had an effect—not least of all on her masterly aesthetic sensibilities.