Nancy Rubins transforms industrial, manufactured objects—such as mattresses, appliances, and boats—into the building blocks of her physically commanding monumental sculptures. Acting as an intermediary between the past and future states of her chosen materials, Rubins hones the formal rather than functional qualities of the discrete components comprising a single, cohesive sculpture. The recent Monochrome series, for example, features numerous canoes and rowboats of varying size anchored around a large steel armature, suspended like leaves on the limb of a tree. Brimming with the entropic energies of a force of nature, her arrangements evoke a precarious equilibrium of objects in space. Rubins’s practice cites both the traditions of modernist American monumental sculpture as well as bricolage, ultimately serving to emphasize the aesthetic possibilities of quotidian objects.
Rubins was born in 1952 in Naples, Texas. She received a BFA in 1974 from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and an MFA in 1976 from the University of California, Davis. Recent solo exhibitions include Airplane Parts and Building, A Large Growth for San Diego, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (1994); Projects 49: Nancy Rubins, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (1997); Miami Art Museum (1999); FRAC Bourgogne, France (2005); MoMA and Airplane Parts, SculptureCenter, New York (2006); Big Pleasure Point, Lincoln Center, New York (2006); Drawing, Sculpture, Studies, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (2014); and Table and Airplane Parts, Gare de Leuglay, France (2015–17). Rubins’s work is featured in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; and FRAC Bourgogne, France. Her large-scale outdoor sculptures are on permanent display at leading institutions throughout the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; and Université Paris Diderot. Rubins was honored with the Distinguished Women in the Arts Award in 2013 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Rubins lives and works in Topanga Canyon, California.
February 7–April 14, 2018
Britannia Street, London
Our Friend Fluid Metal
July 17–September 13, 2014
West 21st Street, New York
Works for New Space, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I & II
July 16–September 3, 2010
Skins, Structures, Landmasses
June 3–July 9, 2010
Chas’ Stainless Steel, Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts, About 1000 Pounds of Stainless Steel Wire, and Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space
September 13–October 27, 2001
Nancy Rubins: Exploring Form
Join Nancy Rubins at her California studio as she speaks about her working process and the abiding interests in space, depth, and the residues of time that have informed her sculptures and drawings.
Behind the Art
Nancy Rubins: Drawing in Graphite
Filmed during the installation of Nancy Rubins’s latest exhibition, Diversifolia, this video provides a rare look at one of the artist’s large-scale, graphite drawings.
Work in Progress
In the summer of 2017, Laura Fried took a trip to Nancy Rubins’s awe-inspiring studio in Topanga Canyon, CA. In this essay, she recounts her visit, detailing Rubins’s latest sculptures and the history of the studio.
Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal
Hurtling through time and space, Nancy Rubins captures aluminum orbiting in a delicate point of transition.
Installation at Ruby City
Watch as Nancy Rubins’s 5,000 lbs. of Sonny’s Airplane Parts, Linda’s Place, and 550 lbs. of Tire-Wire (1997) gets installed at Ruby City, a contemporary art center in San Antonio, Texas, opening October 13, 2019. Designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Alamo Architects, Ruby City will provide a space for the city’s thriving creative community to experience works by both local and internationally acclaimed artists.
Nancy Rubins’s 5,000 lbs. of Sonny’s Airplane Parts, Linda’s Place, and 550 lbs. of Tire-Wire (1997) being installed at Ruby City in San Antonio, Texas, 2019
Sculpture in the City 2019
June 2019–April 2020
Various locations in London
Nancy Rubins’s Crocodylius Philodendrus (2016–17) has remained on view in London’s Square Mile to be featured again in Sculpture in the City, an annual urban sculpture park. Clusters of animal forms are arranged in balanced compression and secured with tensile cables. “Tensegrity,” the term for the structural property that Rubins employs, galvanizes the aluminum, brass, bronze, and cast iron animals into purely formal, abstract components that propel into space due to their aggregate momentum. The work is from her series Diversifolia, which was first exhibited last year at Gagosian, Britannia Street, London.
Nancy Rubins, Crocodylius Philodendrus, 2016–17 © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Lucy Dawkins
FOG Design+Art 2019
January 17–20, 2019, booth 309
Fort Mason Festival Pavilion, San Francisco
Gagosian is pleased to participate in FOG Design+Art 2019, with modern and contemporary artworks by Joe Bradley, Edmund de Waal, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Marc Newson, Giuseppe Penone, Nancy Rubins, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Adriana Varejão, Mary Weatherford, Rachel Whiteread, Jonas Wood, Richard Wright, and others.
To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at fogfair.com. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.
Adriana Varejão, Pearl Song, 2018 © Adriana Varejão
The Foundation of the Museum
May 19, 2019–January 20, 2020
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles
To mark the museum’s fortieth anniversary, this exhibition presents a selected topography of artworks that speak to the diversity of MOCA’s collecting over the past four decades. With special emphasis on works associated with the museum’s remarkable history of exhibitions, The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection shows the institution’s holdings as shaped by a changing landscape of developments in contemporary art and curatorial focus, as well by as the social and cultural backdrops that inform them. Work by Chris Burden, Mike Kelley, Bruce Nauman, Albert Oehlen, Nancy Rubins, and Ed Ruscha is included.
Chris Burden, Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, 1986 © 2019 Chris Burden/Licensed by the Chris Burden Estate and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Squidds and Nunns
Nancy Rubins in
May 17–September 15, 2019
The sixth edition of the Amsterdam Sculpture Biennial presents more than sixty figurative sculptures and spatial installations. Work by Nancy Rubins is included.
Nancy Rubins, Agrifauna Delicata I, 2017 © Nancy Rubins
Paper into Sculpture
October 14, 2017–February 4, 2018
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
This exhibition plays on tensions between commonly held understandings of sculpture and what paper can and cannot do, pushed to its physical limits. Treating paper as a material with a palpable three-dimensional presence rather than as a mere support for mark making, artists in this show use processes ranging from tearing, crumpling, and cutting to scattering, binding, and adhering to create sculptural works that take a variety of forms and suggest a range of expressive and conceptual implications. Work by Nancy Rubins and Franz West is included.
Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2005 © Nancy Rubins
May 20–July 30, 2017
Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus
This multifaceted survey features the work of thirty-seven contemporary women artists who have explored the practice of creating en grisaille—in shades of gray. The works on display reveal the truly vibrant and variegated spectrum of black, white, and gray. Work by Nancy Rubins and Rachel Whiteread is included.
Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2005 © Nancy Rubins