Dorothy Ruddick was born in Winnetka, Illinois in 1925. As an undergraduate at Radcliffe, she studied art history at the Fogg Museum, and then transferred to Black Mountain College where she studied with Josef Albers. She has participated in many group exhibitions over the years including The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Her one-person exhibitions include Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania; Steven Harris Architects, New York; and most recently at the Richard York Gallery, New York. Her work is included in many museum collections, including The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania.
In 1998, Dorothy Ruddick took her long fascination with cloth and clothing in a new direction. Her previous portfolio of work consisted of fiber-based abstractions stitched onto linen using silk, cotton, and wool thread. Now the artist has changed her focus to explore the effect of drapery as it encircles the figure, using papier-mâché swathed over forms created with polymer modeling compound. Number II is the first enlargement in bronze from this series.
Ruddick has described the papier-mâché and polymer sculptures as “lyric poems” and the bronze as an “epic.” In both mediums, the attention to drapery and the definition it lends to the form indicates classical references, but the fragmentation and abstract treatment of the form places the work in a contemporary context. The figure is not idealized, yet it retains an alluring and beautiful form that is defined by the loops and folds of the drapery. Rather than appearing broken at the neck, arms, and legs, the sculpture is smooth, indicating that these parts were never a consideration, moving the object towards the abstract realm.