EMBRACH, SWITZERLAND, MARCH 2 -- An American artist said today that he has signed an agreement with the Soviet Union to launch what could be the first sculpture in space: a huge ring with "peace" written on it in different languages.

Arthur Woods said he signed the agreement last week with Dmitri Poletayev, a representative of the Soviet space agency Glavkosmos, to launch the sculpture in 1990 or 1991.

The 20-foot ring would be transported on a Proton rocket to the Mir space station, from which it would be deployed, he said.

Woods will be responsible for financing the launch and sculpture, at an estimated cost of $300,000. Funding is to come from private contributions of at least $35 each, said Woods, who calls the project Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite, or OURS.

"This project is a gesture of getting the public involved in something that could send a sentiment of world peace" into space, said Woods, 39.

Woods said he asked NASA if it wanted to launch a similar sculpture but had not received a reply.

Woods said the ring would be a "prototype" for another project in the works -- a 3,300-foot-diameter sculpture that would be visible from Earth. He hopes it will be put in orbit by the year 2000. Woods said the sculptures would be made of a foil-like substance that would be inflated in space and then become rigid when exposed to sunlight. He said the technology, known as ISRS for inflatable space-rigidized structures, had been developed by a Swiss company, Contraves. He said he was collaborating with Contraves on the projects.

Woods said he grew up near Cape Canaveral and worked there for two summers while he eas a student. He moved to Switerzland in 1974 and describes himself as a painter and sculptor.