A chance to intimately encounter one of Ruth Asawa’s most celebrated works.
An iconic work by a beloved and influential Bay Area artist, Untitled (S.272) is a nine-foot-tall hanging sculpture composed of looped copper and iron wire, created in the mid-1950s by Ruth Asawa (American, 1926–2013). This second installation in the Fang Family Launchpad is a masterful example of the suspended, abstract works of looped wire for which Asawa is best known. Its airy interior and exterior spaces flow seamlessly into one another, using organic lines that evoke shapes found in nature — including the human body — while also suggesting a gently undulating movement.
Asawa is a pioneering figure both in the civic landscape of San Francisco and in the history of American art. She is remembered as a committed educator and arts advocate: in addition to her important work with organizations including the San Francisco Arts Commission, she was a driving force behind the creation of the city’s public arts high school, now named Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in her honor. Locals are likely to have encountered her numerous and prominent public art commissions throughout the city including the Origami Fountains in Japantown, the Andrea mermaid fountain in Ghirardelli Square, and more. Meanwhile, Asawa’s signature looped wire sculptures are now recognized as meaningful contributions to midcentury art’s rigorous exploration of spatial abstraction. With their playfully biomorphic structures, their engagement with repetition and negative space, and their use of materiality to determine form, works such as Untitled (S.272) represent a visionary bridge between the major themes of sculpture in the modern postwar period and the subsequent era of contemporary art.
Image and detail: Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.272, Hanging Seven-Lobed Continuous Interlocking Form with Spheres in Two Lobes), approx. 1954. Copper and iron wire. © 2023 Ruth Asawa Lanier, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph by Dan Bradica, courtesy David Zwirner.