Sterling Ruby’s work engages with issues related to the violence and pressures within society, autobiography, and art history. Drawing on diverse aesthetic strategies and mediums—glossy and color-saturated poured-polyurethane sculptures, drawings, collages, richly glazed ceramics, graffiti-inspired spray paintings, and video—he maintains a constant tension within a multitude of elements. Throughout, he vacillates between fluid and static, minimalist and expressionist, pristine and dirty. Of the diverse forms that constitute his oeuvre, the paintings are the most formally abstract. Ruby has long been influenced by the sociological implications of urban demarcation, vandalism, and the power struggles of gang graffiti. In his paintings, acts of defacement are transformed into a painterly sublime.
Ruby was born in 1972 on Bitburg Air Base, Germany. He graduated in 1996 from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, Lancaster, and went on to receive a BFA in 2002 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in 2005 from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Recent solo exhibitions include CHRON, Drawing Center, New York (2008); SUPERMAX 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008); Grid Ripper, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy (2008–09); SOFT WORK, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2012, traveled to FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, France; and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm); CHRON II, Fondazione Memmo Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2013, traveled to Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany); DROPPA BLOCKA, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium (2013); Baltimore Museum of Art (2014); STOVES, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris (2015); Belvedere Museum, Vienna (2016); and Sterling Ruby: Ceramics, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2018, traveling to Museum of Arts and Design, New York). Ruby’s work is featured in museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec; Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Ruby participated in the Taipei, Gwangju, South Korea, and Whitney Biennials in 2014; and Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only, the Hammer Museum’s third biennial.
Ruby lives and works in Los Angeles.
ACTS + TABLE
October 2–December 14, 2019
Britannia Street, London
March 1–April 15, 2017
980 Madison Avenue, New York
October 21–December 19, 2015
Extended through March 25, 2016
October 18, 2015–March 25, 2016
September 13–October 25, 2014
An exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, is raising funds to aid in the reconstruction of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris following the devastating fire of April 2019. Gagosian directors Serena Cattaneo Adorno and Jean-Olivier Després spoke to Jennifer Knox White about the generous response of artists and others, and what the restoration of this iconic structure means across the world.
Sterling Ruby: Bloody Pots
Ceramics expert Garth Clark explores Sterling Ruby’s practice in the medium, addressing the work’s allegiances and divergences from tradition.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2018
The Winter 2018 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available. Our cover this issue comes from High Times, a new body of work by Richard Prince.
Sterling Ruby: Winterpalais, Vienna
Mario Codognato, curator of the exhibition, discusses Sterling Ruby’s first-ever European survey at the Belvedere’s Winterpalais galleries.
Frieze London 2019
Pitti Immagine Uomo 96
June 11–14, 2019
Fortezza da Basso, Florence, Italy
After nearly ten years of exploration, Sterling Ruby will release his first ready-to-wear clothing and accessories line, S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. The collection will debut at Pitti Immagine Uomo 96, the renowned menswear show in Florence, Italy, on June 13. Ruby has been selected as the special guest of the event. To learn more about the brand, visit srstudio.com or follow @S.R. STUDIO.LA.CA on Instagram.
Sterling Ruby. Photo: Melanie Schiff
February 9–April 21, 2019
Coachella Valley, Whitewater, California
Sterling Ruby’s fluorescent orange monolith SPECTER (2019), appears as an apparition in the desert as part of Desert X, a contemporary-art biennial in Coachella Valley, California. The artist’s brightly colored geometric sculpture creates a jarring optical illusion, giving the landscape the effect of a Photoshopped composite or collage, as if something has been removed or erased from the terrain.
Sterling Ruby, SPECTER, 2019 © Sterling Ruby
February 2–April 21, 2019
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
Sterling Ruby’s expansive practice offers a reassessment, critique, and reinvention of a variety of modernist strategies. This exhibition features nearly thirty large- and medium-scale sculptures spanning his career, from poured polyurethane works to monumental ceramic collages weighing hundreds of pounds to soft sculptures incorporating inexpensive fabrics that the artist dyes himself, to Minimalist compositions of urethane and Formica.
Installation view, Sterling Ruby: Sculpture, Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, February 2–April 21, 2019. Artwork © Sterling Ruby. Photo: Kevin Todora
From Paris to the World
November 19, 2018–March 17, 2019
Denver Art Museum
Dior: From Paris to the World surveys seventy years of the House of Dior’s enduring legacy and its global influence. A selection of more than 170 couture dresses, as well as accessories, costume jewelry, photographs, drawings, runway videos, and other archival material, traces the history of the iconic haute couture fashion house. Work by Peter Lindbergh and Sterling Ruby is included.
Peter Lindbergh, Kiara Kabukuru, Debra Shaw, Paris, France, 1997, 1997 © Peter Lindbergh
October 3, 2018–March 17, 2019
Museum of Arts and Design, New York
Sterling Ruby’s areas of interest are numerous, but sculptures in clay have long played a fascinating and primary position in his broader studio work. Process and materiality are paramount for Ruby, and using these attributes has enabled him to create an extraordinary body of work that is engaging, intuitive, and subversive. This exhibition has traveled from the Des Moines Art Center.
Sterling Ruby, Brass Ketamine User, 2010 © Sterling Ruby. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
West by Midwest
November 17, 2018–January 27, 2019
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
West by Midwest tells a story that illuminates the ways that contemporary art practices spread and develop by tracing the intersecting lives of artists who have migrated from the American Midwest to the West Coast since the mid-twentieth century. Lured by career opportunities, warmer weather, and the prospect of a better life promised by the postwar boom, those artists who were able to migrate attended art schools together, shared studios, exhibited work in the same galleries, collaborated on projects, engaged in activism, and dated one another. Work by Mike Kelley, Bruce Nauman, Sterling Ruby, and Ed Ruscha is included.
Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston, Business Cards, 1968, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago © Ed Ruscha and Billy Al Bengston. Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago