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.
Gagosian is pleased to present Fluid Space, an exhibition of recent sculptures and drawings by Nancy Rubins.
Since the late 1970s, Rubins has transformed industrial and found objects—everything from television sets and airplane parts to canoes and carousel animals—into engineered abstractions following rhizomatic patterns. Her first public project, Big Bil-Bored (1980) was commissioned for the Cermak Plaza shopping center in Berwyn, Illinois, and she has continued to work on a large scale ever since; Big Pleasure Point, a structure composed of more than sixty small water vessels, was installed outside New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 2006.
In Fluid Space (2019–), the series from which the exhibition takes its title, Rubins uses the same cast metal animals that appeared in her Diversifolia series (2016–18), now sliced into fragments that expose their seams and undersides, calling further attention to the shape-shifting potential of the metal itself. These quasi-organic structures bloom from tables and stools, recalling works such as Table & Airplane Parts (1990–2011), which incorporate architectural foundations from which disparate elements emerge.
In sculptures such as Fizzy’s Nebuli and Noir’s Cluster (both 2019), parts of the cast animals are bound together by webs of tensile cables, producing configurations that are no longer legible as fauna, reading instead as structures that approximate rosebuds or ivy tendrils. The sculptures’ titles also emphasize their correspondence with cosmic and cellular phenomena. In these and other works, Rubins testifies to her chosen materials’ resilience while also hinting at ongoing processes of change.
Also on view are large-scale and smaller unmounted drawings on paper, fixed directly to the wall in Rubins’s customary manner. She covers the entire surface of the thick paper with graphite, producing a dense, shiny, steel-gray expanse that bears traces of her hand and gives the impression of bottomless depth. In the larger drawings, multiple sheets of paper are combined and folded so that they arc away from the wall, echoing the forms of some sculptures.
Nancy Rubins and Eric Shiner
The pair discuss Nancy Rubins’s unique approach to sculpture, in which industrial and found objects—such as television sets, airplane parts, and carousel animals—are transformed into engineered abstractions that are at once otherworldly and familiar.
Conclusions Never Reached: Nancy Rubins in Fluid Space
Sara Softness reflects on a new series of sculptures by Nancy Rubins, Fluid Space (2019–21), “visual poems” that hint at the invisible and the unknown.
Nancy Rubins: Exploring Form
Join Nancy Rubins at her California studio as she speaks about her working process and the abiding interests in space, depth, and the residues of time that have informed her sculptures and drawings.
Behind the Art
Nancy Rubins: Drawing in Graphite
Filmed during the installation of Nancy Rubins’s latest exhibition, Diversifolia, this video provides a rare look at one of the artist’s large-scale, graphite drawings.
Work in Progress
In the summer of 2017, Laura Fried took a trip to Nancy Rubins’s awe-inspiring studio in Topanga Canyon, CA. In this essay, she recounts her visit, detailing Rubins’s latest sculptures and the history of the studio.
Gallery Weekend LA
Frank Gehry, Albert Oehlen, Nancy Rubins
July 28–August 1, 2021
Gagosian is participating in the inaugural Gallery Weekend LA with three exhibitions. Frank Gehry: Spinning Tales and Nancy Rubins: Fluid Space, both on view at Gagosian’s Beverly Hills location, will be open for extended hours during Gallery Weekend LA (July 28: 10am–7pm; July 29–30: 10am–5:30pm; July 31–August 1: 12–6pm). Visitors can also see Albert Oehlen: Tramonto Spaventoso with an appointment, on view at Marciano Art Foundation (July 28–31: 11am–5pm). The event is organized through Gallery Association Los Angeles and galleryplatform.la and includes nearly eighty-five of the city’s leading contemporary art galleries and museums.
Frank Gehry, Wishful Thinking, 2021, installation view, Frank Gehry: Spinning Tales, Gagosian, Beverly Hills, 2021 © Frank O. Gehry. Photo: Joshua White
Tuesday, August 3, 2021, 1pm edt
Join Gagosian for an online conversation between Nancy Rubins and Eric Shiner inside the artist’s exhibition Fluid Space, on view at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, through August 6. The pair will discuss Rubins’s unique approach to sculpture, in which industrial and found objects—such as television sets, airplane parts, and carousel animals—are transformed into engineered abstractions that are at once otherworldly and familiar. To join, register at eventbrite.com.
Left: Nancy Rubins. Photo: Joel Searles. Right: Eric Shiner. Photo: Walker Olesen
Works for New Space, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Monochrome I & II
July 16–September 3, 2010