The five pieces come from three different projects created in recent years: Unit 1: 3583 Dubois (2019), The Body, the Mind, This Constructed World (2018) and Glasur Stykker (Glaze Pieces) (2017–18). Together, they illustrate different aspects of Ruhwald’s multifaceted ceramic practice. The pieces span from site-specific narrative explorations inspired by urban conditions in the United States, as in Marker #1, to studies of Danish glaze tradition, as seen in particular in the three pieces from Glasur Stykker.

Charred flat in Detroit

Marker #1 relates to Ruhwald’s site-specific installation Unit 1: 3583 Dubois. The installation is permanent and occupies a flat in Detroit. It points to the loss of stories and memories that the city has suffered in the form of abandoned or demolished buildings. Unit 1: 3583 Dubois consists of a series of rooms and corridors painted pitch-black. Throughout the six-room flat, Ruhwald has placed what he calls markers: man-size, black ceramic drop shapes. Fire is a persistent theme in the installation, which is both an image of the destruction of Detroit and, at the same time, of transformation and renewal. Moreover, fire – the firing in the kiln – plays a key role in ceramics.

An intuitive approach

Ruhwald’s work series Glasur Stykker is a study of ceramic glazes. For Ruhwald, creating the glaze pieces was akin to drawing, as it takes place in a similarly intuitive process. Working with glaze offers a way to examine a material and thus a space where new possibilities may arise. Some of his works echo the original role of ceramics as functional objects in the form of bowls, lamps or other items that the ceramic material has historically been used for. Ruhwald is intrigued by what happens when the act of shifting and displacing simple elements make a piece behave unexpectedly.

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, which can now add the pieces to its collection, was founded in 1879 and is one of the oldest and biggest art museums in the United States. It owns a wide-ranging collection spanning from Chinese bronze objects to modern design and installation art. The Art Institute of Chicago owns pieces by several Danish designers, including Nanna Ditzel, Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner.

About Anders Ruhwald

Anders Ruhwald (b. 1974) is a Danish ceramicist and designer. He graduated from the Royal Danish Academy – Design, Bornholm, and the Royal College of Art in London. Ruhwald lives and works in Chicago and Detroit. He is the former Head of Ceramics at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In addition to at the Art Institute of Chicago, Anders Ruhwald’s work is represented in collections around the world, including Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.