Although he is less known in the United States than across the Atlantic, Ulrich Rückriem is certainly one of the most respected European sculptors of his generation. Coming of age as an artist in the mid-1960s, he has certain kinship with the American Minimalists of the period. His sculptures are extremely simple in form but their rough stone surfaces are different from the smooth steel and Plexiglas surfaces of Minimalist art. Left bare in their natural state, his sculptures look as archaic as they look contemporary.
What characterizes Rückriem’s sculpture is how clear it is how they have been drilled, cut and split and then put together again in the same configuration. The whole process of making the work is evident. It has been pointed out about Rückriem’s approach in general that he does not sculpt the surface, as sculptors have done from the beginning of time, but rather the interior of the volume. An unseen interior can be inferred from the marks of drilling and cutting, but in the sculpture at Western the interior is exposed by removing the center section of the block, revealing a polished granite cavity. Otherwise, the block of stone has been left as the artist found it at the quarry. Rückriem has said, “I stop where others begin”; “In the beginning is my end.”