What are Paul McCarthy and Sterling Ruby up to this fall? Find out at Hauser & Wirth’s booth at Frieze London. Roberta Smith of the New York Times announced in 2008 that although the 21st century had only begun eight years prior, “Sterling Ruby is one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century.” Growing up in rural Pennsylvania he chose to be an artist after seeing Bruce Nauman’s 1995 retrospective at MoMA. After a degree from the Art Institute of Chicago, a move to L.A., and a gig as Mike Kelley’s teaching assistant, Ruby emerged at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2006, thanks to collectors Don and Mera Rubell. A year later Ruby had a solo show at MOCA, Los Angeles.
Hauser & Wirth offers two recent works by Ruby, a painting and a collage, both representing the ethereal, angsty 2-D compositions that the multi-talented artist is known for. SP246, a spray-painted work, reflects the artist’s intentions to portray his “generation’s unrest” injecting color field experimentations with graffiti traditions. BC (4434), a collage of paint, bleach, fabric and glue on a wood base resembles a cross between Warhol oxidation paintings, cubist experimentations with assemblage, and Kasimir Malevich abstractions. Ken Johnson of the New York Times once ventured that given his “conceptual and aesthetic sophistication,” Sterling Ruby could be the lovechild of Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy.
McCarthy, also featured in Hauser & Wirth’s Frieze London booth, presents a photograph of a teddy bear. The bear in question, Violet Bear, Yellow, 1991 (2012) is part of several of McCarthy’s projects of the past. Between 1972 and 1983 the artist did many performance works and kept the props he used, storing them all in a suitcase. In 1983 the closed suitcases were exhibited as a sculptural work. Then in 1991 McCarthy opened the abandoned suitcases and photographed the items inside: masks, bottles, pans, clothing, dolls, etc., forming the series of photographs he titled PROPO. Violet Bear is a part of that series, depicting a decrepit, lavender, one-eyed teddy bear. Covered in dirt and remnants of refuse, before a sunshine yellow backdrop, McCarthy has managed to effectively darken the motif of the teddy bear in his way, putting a fantastical, horror-movie spin on an innocent plaything.
Following McCarthy’s notorious Summer shows, WS at the Park Avenue Armory and shows at Hauser & Wirth’s New York locations, stay tuned to see what’s next for the provocateur. McCarthy will debut a new work (soon to be disclosed) at Hauser & Wirth’s Frieze London booth.
On view at Hauser & Wirth, Frieze London 2013, Booth B11, October 17th – 20th.