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Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins, Chas’ Stainless Steel, Mark Thomson’s Airplane Parts,
about 1,000 lbs. of Stainless Steel Wire & Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space
at MOCA, 2002 Airplane parts, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 25 × 54 × 33 feet (7.6 × 16.5 × 10.1 m), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

Nancy Rubins, Chas’ Stainless Steel, Mark Thomson’s Airplane Parts, about 1,000 lbs. of Stainless Steel Wire & Gagosian’s Beverly Hills Space at MOCA, 2002

Airplane parts, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 25 × 54 × 33 feet (7.6 × 16.5 × 10.1 m), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

Nancy Rubins, Big Pleasure Point, 2006 Boats, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire cable, 45 × 55 × 40 feet (13.7 × 16.8 × 12.2 m)Installation view, Lincoln Center, New York, presented in partnership with Public Art Fund© Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins, Big Pleasure Point, 2006

Boats, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire cable, 45 × 55 × 40 feet (13.7 × 16.8 × 12.2 m)
Installation view, Lincoln Center, New York, presented in partnership with Public Art Fund
© Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Chicago, 2012 Aluminum boats, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire cable, 40 × 35 × 33 feet (12.2 × 10.7 × 10.1 m)Installation view, Navy Pier, Chicago© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Koyama

Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Chicago, 2012

Aluminum boats, stainless steel, and stainless steel wire cable, 40 × 35 × 33 feet (12.2 × 10.7 × 10.1 m)
Installation view, Navy Pier, Chicago
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Koyama

Nancy Rubins, Study Model (Monochrome for Paris), 2012 Handmade painted wood model boats, epoxy putty, and steel armature, 66 ¾ × 63 ⅝ × 57 ⅝ inches (169.5 × 169.2 × 146.4 cm)© Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins, Study Model (Monochrome for Paris), 2012

Handmade painted wood model boats, epoxy putty, and steel armature, 66 ¾ × 63 ⅝ × 57 ⅝ inches (169.5 × 169.2 × 146.4 cm)
© Nancy Rubins

Nancy Rubins, Chunkus Majoris, 2013 Aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 12 feet 6 inches × 16 feet × 12 feet 1 inch (3.8 × 4.9 × 3.7 m)© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Rob McKeever

Nancy Rubins, Chunkus Majoris, 2013

Aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 12 feet 6 inches × 16 feet × 12 feet 1 inch (3.8 × 4.9 × 3.7 m)
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Rob McKeever

Nancy Rubins, Our Friend Fluid Metal, 2014 Aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 17 feet × 41 feet 8 inches × 23 feet 3 inches (5.2 × 12.7 × 7.1 m)© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Ansel Koyama

Nancy Rubins, Our Friend Fluid Metal, 2014

Aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 17 feet × 41 feet 8 inches × 23 feet 3 inches (5.2 × 12.7 × 7.1 m)
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Ansel Koyama

Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, July 17–September 13, 2014 Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Ansel Koyama

Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, July 17–September 13, 2014

Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Erich Ansel Koyama

Nancy Rubins, Hog de la Ivy, 2016–17 Cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 9 feet 4 inches × 13 feet 10 inches × 11 feet 7 inches (2.8 × 4.2 × 3.5 m)© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Joel Searles

Nancy Rubins, Hog de la Ivy, 2016–17

Cast iron, aluminum, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 9 feet 4 inches × 13 feet 10 inches × 11 feet 7 inches (2.8 × 4.2 × 3.5 m)
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Joel Searles

Nancy Rubins, Agrifolia Majoris, 2017 Cast aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 14 feet 3 inches × 19 feet 3 inches × 17 feet 9 inches (43.4 × 58.7 × 54.1 m)© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

Nancy Rubins, Agrifolia Majoris, 2017

Cast aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 14 feet 3 inches × 19 feet 3 inches × 17 feet 9 inches (43.4 × 58.7 × 54.1 m)
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2010–18 Graphite on rag paper, 16 feet 3 ¾ inches × 17 feet 1 ⅞ inches × 2 feet 7 ½ inches (497 × 523 × 80 cm)© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2010–18

Graphite on rag paper, 16 feet 3 ¾ inches × 17 feet 1 ⅞ inches × 2 feet 7 ½ inches (497 × 523 × 80 cm)
© Nancy Rubins. Photo: Lucy Dawkins

About

I realized that this stuff has been around a long time, and it’s passed through this odd transition.  Before it was in the earth, it was floating as a molecule in outer space—it was part of somebody’s star, or part of somebody’s exploding planet. 
—Nancy Rubins

Through sculptures assembled from discarded materials and graphite drawings that assume the appearance of liquid metal, Nancy Rubins transforms quotidian objects into artworks that exceed the sums of their parts. She explores the precariousness and limits of natural forces through large-format pieces with formidable psychological and physical presence. Working with salvaged commercial and industrial materials since the late 1970s, Rubins frequently combines features of assemblage and monumental sculpture to create dynamic works that are at once familiar and otherworldly.

Rubins has been preoccupied with achieving seemingly impossible production feats throughout much of her artistic career, bridging the worlds of engineering and art. In 1974 she completed a BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and then moved to the West Coast to study at the University of California at Davis, where she received an MFA two years later. Around this time, she began collecting used appliances—from hair dryers to electric shavers, toaster ovens to televisions—which she included in large, semiflexible wall-like sculptures. Initially sourcing her materials from garbage dumps and thrift stores, Rubins mined not only the vast quantities of objects at her disposal, but also the history of each salvaged item.

From her early-1980s accumulations of domestic devices, which she assembled into gigantic tornado- or tidal-wave-shaped forms, Rubins’s practice evolved in the 1990s to include immense clusters of sizeable objects, such as boats, mattresses, or the deconstructed parts of enormously complex, manufactured machinery like airplanes and trailers. Rubins amasses these components into biological or arboreal growth patterns that often cantilever over pedestrian traffic below. As she does so, she continues to focus on the formal qualities of the salvaged objects.

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Fairs, Events & Announcements

Nancy Rubins, Dense Bud, 2016, installation view, Chicago © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

Public Installation

Nancy Rubins
Dense Bud and Agrifolia Majoris

Two sculptures by Nancy RubinsDense Bud (2016) and Agrifolia Majoris (2017)—are currently on public display in Chicago as part of a partnership program between the Chicago Park District and EXPO Chicago’s IN/SITU Outside program, which installs temporary public art installations along the lakefront and throughout Chicago neighborhoods.

Nancy Rubins, Dense Bud, 2016, installation view, Chicago © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Art Institute of Chicago, September 30, 2021–September 26, 2022. Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

In Conversation

Nancy Rubins
Ann Goldstein

Thursday, September 1, 2022, 2–3pm
Art Institute of Chicago
www.artic.edu

Join Nancy Rubins and Ann Goldstein, deputy director and Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, for a conversation about the artist’s exhibition Our Friend Fluid MetalTwo works from this series are presented in Chicago for the first time in an installation composed by Rubins for the Art Institute’s Bluhm Family Terrace. In these works, Rubins transforms children’s equipment from playgrounds, amusement parks, and coin-operated rides into dynamic, colorful sculptures that uncannily cantilever and bloom out of the ground.

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Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Art Institute of Chicago, September 30, 2021–September 26, 2022. Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Brian Guido

Nancy Rubins, Mattresses and Cakes, 1993, installation view, 45th Biennale di Venezia © Nancy Rubins

Award

Nancy Rubins
Artists’ Legacy Foundation Artist Award

Nancy Rubins has won the Artists’ Legacy Foundation (ALF) Artist Award for 2021. Since 2007, ALF has recognized and honored the accomplishments of an outstanding visual artist whose primary medium is painting or sculpture. Each year ten artists are nominated for the ALF Artist Award by five anonymous nominators selected by the board, and a jury of three peers makes the final selection. Juror Mary Ceruti, executive director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, noted that Rubins “brings an expansive and experimental approach to monumental sculptures that inspire wonder while also being genuinely grounded in our lived experience and material world.”

Nancy Rubins, Mattresses and Cakes, 1993, installation view, 45th Biennale di Venezia © Nancy Rubins

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Museum Exhibitions

Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Art Institute of Chicago, September 30, 2021–September 26, 2022. Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Tom Van Eynde

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Nancy Rubins
Our Friend Fluid Metal

September 30, 2021–September 26, 2022
Art Institute of Chicago
www.artic.edu

In her series Our Friend Fluid Metal, Nancy Rubins transforms children’s equipment from playgrounds, amusement parks, and coin-operated rides into dynamic, colorful sculptures that uncannily cantilever and bloom out of the ground. Weathered from use, this equipment was originally produced with metal recycled from World War II aircraft, and Rubins’s careful aggregations of these cast-off objects give them a new life. Two works from this series are presented in Chicago for the first time in an installation composed by the artist for the Art Institute’s Bluhm Family Terrace.

Installation view, Nancy Rubins: Our Friend Fluid Metal, Art Institute of Chicago, September 30, 2021–September 26, 2022. Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Photo: Tom Van Eynde

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

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The Foundation of the Museum
MOCA’s Collection

May 19, 2019–January 20, 2020
Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Los Angeles
www.moca.org

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, Agrifauna Delicata I, 2017 © Nancy Rubins

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Nancy Rubins in
ARTZUID 2019

May 17–September 15, 2019
Amsterdam
www.artzuid.nl

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

Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2005 © Nancy Rubins

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Paper into Sculpture

October 14, 2017–February 4, 2018
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
www.nashersculpturecenter.org

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

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Press

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