Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own

Ursula von Rydingsvard is a New York-based contemporary artist whose artworks encompasses sculpture and two-dimensional imagery. Her work, rooted in the sculpting of raw cedar, have been exhibited in galleries, museums and public spaces throughout the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Venice Biennale, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Storm King Art Center.

The film follows, from beginning to final installation, various recent commissions including those for MIT and Princeton University. It also explores her early struggles, passion and profound drive to become an artist. Told mostly through her own voice, the film includes interviews with colleagues, family members and close friends who offer additional perspective on her life and work.

  • Daniel Traub
    Barefoot Artist, Xu Bing: Phoenix
  • Daniel Traub
  • Ken Kobland
  • Simon Taufique
  • Daniel Traub
  • Morning Slayter
    Executive Producer
  • Ken Kobland
  • Melody London
  • Simon Taufique
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    art, artist, biography, documentary, New York City, woman, women, Inspirational
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes 56 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    300,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Vancouver International Film Festival
    October 2, 2019
    World Premiere
Director Biography - Daniel Traub

Daniel Traub is a New York-based filmmaker and photographer. He lived in China from 1998 to 2007, working as cinematographer on documentary films for various networks and production companies, including PBS, German television ZDF and Arte. More recently, Traub directed the feature-length Barefoot Artist about Lily Yeh and her collaborative artworks in war-torn communities and Xu Bing: Phoenix about the condition of Chinese migrant laborers.

Traub’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Slought Foundation in Philadelphia and the Lianzhou Foto Festival in China. His work can be found in public and private collections, such as The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement


The impetus for Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own came in 2014 when Ursula saw my short film, Xu Bing: Phoenix, at MASS MoCA. At the same time, curators from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park were mounting an exhibition of her work in Venice for the 2015 Biennale. Ursula suggested that they commission me to document the installation process. This resulted in the short documentary Ursula von Rydingsvard: Giardino Della Marinaressa.

Fortuitously, around the same time as the installation in Venice, Ursula was immersed in what she described as the most complex and challenging project of her career: a monumental sculpture commissioned by Princeton University, which she had decided to make from hand-pounded copper plates, a material that she had not used. The project seemed to be an obvious focus for a documentary and so, with Ursula’s blessing, I began to film, first in her studio in Bushwick and later in the workspace of the metals fabricator Richard Webber.

It took me some time to register the power of Ursula’s sculptures. They are at once personal and intimate—even at times humorous—while also being imbued with an almost impersonal, primal energy. I was particularly interested in her process—specifically, how she makes decisions about her artworks and finds a direction forward. I was drawn to the visceral, probing quality of her search and the confidence with which she follows her intuition.

I learned about Ursula’s personal history: her early life in the Displaced Persons camps in Germany, the deprivation of her upbr
inging in Connecticut, the trauma of her first marriage and the brutality of her father. Step by step, through perseverance and will, she cultivated the creative life that she needed. This was present in her work and process, of course, and also in the people that are paramount in her life: her daughter, Ursie; her brother Staś; and her late husband, Paul Greengard. Her studio assistants, who are enormously dedicated to Ursula and her work, are an extended family.

It became apparent that a cogent portrait of Ursula had to include her formative years as a young woman from a traditional, immigrant family, and her quest to surmount the limited expectations imposed upon her. This film is about Ursula’s endeavors to dream big and come into her own.

Daniel Traub