In Standing Woman, Noack returned to the material that had once caught her attention as a woodcarver. In 1941 Noack exhibited Standing Woman for the first time, but she probably worked on it off and on over the course of six years until she finally sold the sculpture to the Gothenburg Museum of Art in September 1947. The sculpture is carved from hard teak. In the pedestal the cross-section of the tree rings can be plainly made out.
Upon closer inspection, the long and demanding working process becomes evident. The wood’s warm colouring and texture give the sculpture a softness and three-dimensionality that Noack further exploited by using the wood’s grain to enhance the curve of the breast. Standing Woman exudes a timeless tranquillity with its austere form. The upright posture and the frontal position with one leg before the other echoes both ancient Egyptian and Greek sculpture, but rather than hanging loose at her sides, her hands are folded under her right breast. It is as if the woman has hesitated mid-stride, her momentum about to carry her forwards again.
She had already started work on Standing Woman when in 1937 she was commissioned to make a sculpture of Anna Ancher to mark the Danish artist’s eightieth birthday. Coming to Noack at the age of fifty, the commission was something of an artistic breakthrough for her. Before then she had been accepted by her peers, but they did not think her particularly important, and beyond their circle she was virtually unknown; now the general public became aware of her art, and in 1944 she had a solo exhibition at the Art Society in Copenhagen. Her breakthrough came after the Second World War with a series of solo exhibitions across Scandinavia, including Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Oslo.
The Gothenburg Museum of Art’s collection has a smaller sculptural group in marble, Woman and Child (1942), a subtle account of a seated woman holding her baby in her arms. It is noticeable for its restrained, condensed expression, bare of all detail, where the encounter between mother and child is all.
Astrid Noack died in 1954, leaving an œuvre that comprises a mere 128 works. In 2006, Standing Woman was hailed as one of the most important artworks of all time in the Danish cultural canon.
Anna Hyltze from The Collection Gothenburg Museum of Art, Gothenburg 2014