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.
Augurs of Spring
As spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, Sydney Stutterheim reflects on the iconography and symbolism of the season in art both past and present.
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.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021, 12pm est
Sterling Ruby will speak with Tim Blanks, editor of the Business of Fashion, about his artistic process and foray into haute couture, as well as how he has stayed creative during the pandemic. The haute couture collection was created in Ruby’s Los Angeles studio, expanding the idea of the artist’s studio as atelier. Garment construction—from pattern-drafting and 3-D draping to dyeing, washing, and rinsing—occurs under the same roof as metalworking, oil painting, and ceramic firing. To attend the online event, register at businessoffashion.zoom.us.
Photo: Melanie Schiff
FIAC Online 2021
March 2–12, 2021
Gagosian is pleased to present Printemps oublié for the first online edition of FIAC. This curated presentation reflects the dual character of springtime as a reminder of past trials and the harbinger of a vibrant new season to come.
All the artworks will appear on the Gagosian website and a rotating selection will appear in the inaugural FIAC Online Viewing Rooms, from March 4 to 7.
Jeff Koons, Bluebird Planter, 2010–16 © Jeff Koons
Haute Couture Week
January 25–28, 2021
Sterling Ruby debuts his first haute couture collection, APPARITIONS, on January 28, during Haute Couture Week spring/summer 2021. Created at the invitation of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode in Paris, the collection explores the intersection of fashion, art, craft, and culture. Responding to the tension between historical and contemporary American narratives, figures walk like specters in a post-apocalyptic landscape imagined from footage filmed by Ruby in an empty paintball park in Southern California. Created in Ruby’s studio in Los Angeles, the S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. couture expands the idea of the artist’s studio as atelier. Garment construction—from pattern-drafting and 3-D draping to dyeing, washing, and rinsing—occurs under the same roof as metalworking, oil painting, and ceramic firing. To watch the show, visit srstudio.com.
Sterling Ruby’s 2021 haute couture collection APPARITIONS
Closing this Week
Sterling Ruby at Cycladic
Through June 27, 2021
Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens
In this exhibition, Sterling Ruby places a selection of his ceramic sculptures among the rare artifacts of the Museum of Cycladic Art’s permanent collection as well as in the museum’s temporary exhibition wing. Ruby’s works—which here include smaller utilitarian objects, larger basins, as well as figurative, floral, and totemic forms—converse with representative examples of figurines, tools, weapons, and pottery from the distinctive culture that flourished in the central Aegean during the Early Bronze Age.
Installation view, Sterling Ruby at Cycladic: Ceramics, Museum of Cycladic Art, Athens, May 14–June 27, 2021. Artwork © Sterling Ruby
Craft in Art, 1950–2019
Closing February 2022
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
Sterling Ruby in
August 28–November 29, 2020
Various locations in Marseille, France
Presented as part of Manifesta 13, the European Nomadic Biennial that changes location every two years, the exhibition Anima Mundi gathers the work of several international artists in the ancient crypts of the Abbey of Saint-Victor, one of the oldest monuments in the Provence region. The works on display, mainly sculptures, communicate with the Paleo-Christian sarcophagi in the crypts and propose a reflection on death, spirituality, and the relation to history. Work by Sterling Ruby is included.
Sterling Ruby, TROUGH, 2014, installation view, Abbaye de Saint-Victor, Marseille, France © Sterling Ruby
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