TWO WORKS BY RUTH ASAWA: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF JAMES J. LUDWIG
James J. Ludwig graduated from Yale University and has since remained an active alumnus through leadership and philanthropy roles. After serving in World War II at the age of 18, Ludwig began his career with Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Ludwig was selected to launch and manage their new San Francisco store where he went on to lead as an executive within the company for over 30 years. Ludwig purchased a home just off San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street in 1957 that included Asawa’s Untitled (S.422, Hanging Single-Lobed, Three Layers of Spheres). After living with this looped wire sculpture for decades, Ludwig acquired a second piece Untitled (S.256), directly from the artist in 2002 following years of friendship. Untitled (S.256), is one of Asawa's iconic tied wire sculptures consisting of two interlocking forms that begins with an open center of six branches of bundled wire. The bundles are tied, then divide and branch out, with nature as the model.
With a deep appreciation for Asawa’s ability to enhance the quality of daily life through her works of art, the Ludwig family loaned Untitled (S.422, Hanging Single-Lobed, Three Layers of Spheres) to the artist’s 2006 retrospective, The Sculptures of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, presented by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum allowing countless visitors to share in the joy the sculpture has provided them for decades. In addition to having an excellent eye for Contemporary and African Art, Ludwig has remained an active and integral part of San Francisco’s rich culture. Highly connected within the San Francisco scene, Ludwig was an early investor in Don and Doris Fisher’s very first Gap store in 1969. In the years following this fortuitous investment, Ludwig has remained dear friends with the Fishers whose world renowned collection anchors the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ludwig’s impact on the city has been extensive, serving as president and chairman of the board of both the San Francisco Ballet Association and the San Francisco Zoological Society, CEO of the Medical Research Institute at California Pacific Medical Center and multiple committees at the de Young Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art among other civic and cultural entities.
Asawa's recent exhibition, Ruth Asawa: Life's Work, at the Pultizer Arts Foundation Arts Foundation was met to wide critical acclaim and provided even richer insight into the artist's innovative contributions to the field of modern and contemporary sculpture. For years, James J. Ludwig has lived alongside these museum quality sculptures so it is with great honor that Sotheby's presents the following lots to the public.
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