Sterling Ruby’s work engages with issues related to autobiography, art history, and the violence and pressures within society. Employing diverse aesthetic strategies and mediums—including sculpture, drawing, collage, ceramics, painting, and video—he examines the tensions between fluidity and stasis, Expressionism and Minimalism, the abject and the pristine.
Born on Bitburg Air Base, Germany, to an American father and a Dutch mother, Ruby moved at a young age to the United States, where he grew up on a farm in southeastern Pennsylvania. There he encountered Amish quilt-making and Pennsylvania redware pottery, both of which directly inspired his initial forays into garment-making, soft sculpture, and ceramics. Ruby graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, in 1996. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, followed by an MFA from the ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 2005.
Living and working in Los Angeles, Ruby draws endless inspiration from the city’s physical and conceptual landscape. A subseries of the SP paintings (2007–14), the VIVIDS (2014), are electric color fields inspired by the shifting, multihued skies that he encounters on his way to the studio, while the SUBMARINE (2015) and TABLES (2015 –19) series were created from hulking industrial parts sourced nearby. Ruby’s work often deals with the ways in which acts of defacement, like urban demarcation and graffiti, can produce a painterly sublime. Both in his YARD paintings (2015–16) and in his WIDW paintings (2016–), he taps into the speed and motion of collage, incorporating bleached fabric and cardboard scraps and combining abstract color fields with fragments of studio refuse. Continually pushing the boundaries between artistic mediums, Ruby launched a ready-to-wear clothing line in 2019.
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
Sterling Ruby: Disjointed Monuments to Nothing
Alessandro Rabottini investigates the theoretical and formal underpinnings of Sterling Ruby’s career through the lens of the artist’s series ACTS.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
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.
January 30–February 2, 2020, booth B25
Gagosian is pleased to participate in artgenève 2020, with modern and contemporary works by Davide Balula, Georg Baselitz, Helen Frankenthaler, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Grant Levy-Lucero, Henri Matisse, Olivier Mosset, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, David Reed, Sterling Ruby, Spencer Sweeney, and Tom Wesselmann, among others.
Helen Frankenthaler, Omen, 1980 © 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
November 27–30, 2019
Gagosian, Britannia Street, London
Join Gagosian for a special screening of Sterling Ruby’s Dihedral (2006) on the occasion of the exhibition ACTS + TABLE, on view through December 14. In the short video, a voice-over intones a modified quote from sociologist Roger Caillois’s surrealist etymological text, “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,” as waves of color encounter a clear liquid. Dihedral illustrates the process that is captured in Ruby’s ACTS series, in which liquid dye is fixed inside clear urethane blocks. The film will be screened during gallery opening hours, from 10am to 6pm. The event is free and open to the public.
Sterling Ruby, Dihedral, 2006 (still) © Sterling Ruby
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019
December 5–8, 2019, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 with modern and contemporary artworks by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, John Chamberlain, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Adam McEwen, Joan Mitchell, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Pablo Picasso, Rudolf Polanszky, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others.
Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York
Closing this Week
Through February 2, 2020
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Since his earliest works, Sterling Ruby has investigated the role of the artist as an outsider. Critiquing the structures of modernism and traditional institutions, he addresses the repressed underpinnings of contemporary culture and the coding of power and violence. This exhibition features more than one hundred works in an array of mediums spanning more than two decades of his practice. This show will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, in February.
Sterling Ruby, ACTS/WS ROLLIN, 2011, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami © Sterling Ruby. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer
Craft in Art, 1950–2019
November 22, 2019–January 2021
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. Some expand techniques with long histories, such as weaving, sewing, or pottery, while others experiment with clay, beads, and glass, among other mediums. Work by Richard Artschwager, Mike Kelley, Shio Kusaka, and Sterling Ruby is included.
Shio Kusaka, (line 5), 2010 © Shio Kusaka
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
February 26–May 26, 2020
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Since his earliest works, Sterling Ruby has investigated the role of the artist as an outsider. Critiquing the structures of modernism and traditional institutions, he addresses the repressed underpinnings of contemporary culture and the coding of power and violence. This exhibition features more than one hundred works in an array of mediums spanning more than two decades of his practice. This show has traveled from the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.
Installation view, Sterling Ruby, Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, November 7, 2019–February 2, 2020. Artwork © Sterling Ruby
August 21, 2019–January 19, 2020
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
A century after the Surrealist movement exploded across the global cultural scene, celebrating the improbable, uncanny, and mysterious, the “strange” remains a source of fascination and artistic inspiration today. Strange features works from Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s collection that invoke strangeness and resonate with the spirit of Surrealism. Work by Sterling Ruby and Cindy Sherman is included.
Sterling Ruby, BASKET (6111), 2016 © Sterling Ruby