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.
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.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Benefit Auction 2020
Wednesday, October 14, 2020, 9pm edt
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego presents its biennial art auction, a fundraising event featuring both live and silent auctions hosted by Artsy. Donated works by early career and internationally recognized artists, including Sterling Ruby and Ed Ruscha, will be available. All proceeds support MCASD exhibitions and acquisitions. The live auction begins at 9pm edt on October 14, and the silent auction closes on October 15 at 8pm edt. To register to bid for both auctions, visit artsy.net.
Sterling Ruby, ASHTRAY 499, 2018 © Sterling Ruby
ACTS + TABLES
Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLES is available for online reading from August 23 through September 21 as part of the From the Library series. Comprising two books housed in a slipcase, ACTS + TABLES was produced on the occasion of the Ruby’s 2019 exhibition at Gagosian, Britannia Street, London. One volume is dedicated to the ACTS series and the other to the TABLES series. In ACTS—whose title is short for “Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity”—Ruby captures liquid dye inside clear urethane and balances these pure prisms atop scuffed, inscribed, and spray-painted laminate-clad bases. The exhibition also includes TABLE (DOUBLE LAST SUPPER) (2019), the culminating work of Ruby’s TABLES, a series that explores the concept of personal and cultural archaeology. The book features a two-part essay by curator and critic Jenelle Porter and is designed by Purtill Family Business.
Sterling Ruby: ACTS + TABLES (London: Gagosian, 2019)
Basel Online 2020
In our most significant online sales presentation to date, Gagosian unveils important works by modern and contemporary masters through two separate online platforms—Gagosian Online and Art Basel Online. These individually curated selections offer collectors direct access to artworks of the highest caliber. To experience the presentation in its entirety, viewers will need to visit both gagosian.com and artbasel.com. The works on gagosian.com will rotate every forty-eight hours, for a total of five cycles.
Helen Frankenthaler, Orange Underline, 1963 © 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Craft in Art, 1950–2019
Through February 22, 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
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, Boston, February 26–May 26, 2020. Artwork © Sterling Ruby
November 7, 2019–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
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