Sterling Ruby defies categorizations by working with a wide range of media and taking an iconoclastic approach toward art movements such as Minimalism and Pop Art. His preferences for urethane, fabric, bronze, spray-paint, and other media de-territorialize his practice, yet its protean nature implicitly gives voice to coherent political and social commentaries targeting established authority.Read More
Ruby grew up in Maryland and Pennsylvania later attending the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in Lancaster. He earned his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, and MFA at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena in California in 2005. For three of the years he was enrolled in the MFA program, he assisted the artist Mike Kelley, and extensively read the works of Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault. Ruby’s work came to national attention at the time of his solo show “SUPERMAX 2008”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. His first solo show in Asia was held at the Taka Ishii Gallery in 2010.
Monument Stalagmites is a series of poured urethane monolithic sculptures scrawled with the gestural marks of dripping spray paint. Their form and the traces of the artist’s hands invoke—without venerating—both the aesthetics of Minimalism and that of Abstract Expressionism. The garishly textured works’ gigantic scale threatens to overwhelm viewers, but unpainted wooden “crutches,” many of which are scribbled with text, hold each work in place. By failing to stand on their own, the works eclipse the power of the two aforementioned artistic movements, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism, the latter of which is particularly associated with masculinity.
For the series Soft Work, Ruby created stuffed sculptures made of colorful and often patterned fabric. The work comprises diverse forms that take on the shape of a teeth-bearing open mouth, piled-up tetrapods suspended from the ceiling, and an octopus-like creature lying on the floor. The series, though reminiscent of Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculpture, is less humorous in its content and more nebulous in its form. The combination of precise handwork and an exaggerated scale points to the problematic association between fabric and domesticity, softness and femininity.
Ruby has presented his works internationally at many exhibitions: “The 2014 Whitney Biennial” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2014); “The 10th Gwangju Biennale: Burning Down the House,” Gwangju, South Korea (2014); “The Setouchi International Art Festival” at Fukutake House, Megijima (2010); “New Photography 2009,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009); Stray Alchemist, at the Ullens Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing (2008); and “SUPERMAX 2008” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008).
Ruby’s work is represented in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami: Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Tate Modern, London.
Text by Yuko Fujii
Text courtesy Kukje Gallery.
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