DALLAS, Texas (October 17, 2018)—The Nasher Sculpture Center announces Sterling Ruby: Sculpture, the first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the sculptural work of Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby, on view February 2 – April 21, 2019.
Sterling Ruby’s multifaceted practice encompasses sculpture, ceramics, installation, textiles, clothing, painting, collage, photography, and video. Featuring nearly 30 large- and moderately-scaled sculptures spanning his career, Sterling Ruby: Sculpture was the first museum exhibition to survey the great variety of sculptural work of one the most significant contemporary artists working today.
“Sterling Ruby’s work explores American culture in wildly various ways, but his sculptural work, in particular, considers our relationships to objects, both high and low, through means that are equally poignant and irreverent,” says Director Jeremy Strick.
From poured polyurethane works to monumental ceramic collages weighing hundreds of pounds to soft sculptures incorporating inexpensive fabrics dyed in the artist’s studio, to Minimalist compositions of urethane and formica, Ruby’s works cross traditional divisions between media and often straddle the line between high and low, fine art and craft, luxury goods and common necessities. Incorporating a range of modernist strategies to make expressive works of art with materials typically associated with utility and affordability, Ruby’s work addresses a range of issues—from societal to personal—and re-examines notions of beauty and value.
Ruby’s expansive practice offers a reassessment, critique, and reinvention of a variety of modernist strategies. The works appear to test the persistence of Modernism’s utopian idealism in the face of harsh contemporary realities like poverty, violence, and urban decay. Ruby’s ACTS series of Formica and dyed urethane blocks reconsiders the conceptual and esthetic purity of Minimalism with materials that suggest a run-down domestic interior, often inscribed with obscure words and acronyms reminiscent of graffiti. The SCALES—mobiles balancing abstract painted forms and found objects—challenge the whimsy and buoyancy of Calder’s invention with the random detritus of contemporary life. Fabric and fiberfill sculptures maintain the approachability of Claes Oldenburg soft sculptures while suggesting darker readings. With a practice that encompasses such a variety of sculptural modes—some closely associated with fine art (welded steel, cast bronze, found object construction, architectonic compositions) and others still traditionally related to craft (ceramics, fiber arts, clothing)—Ruby offers a singular exemplar in his engagement of the expanded field.
Organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, Sterling Ruby: Sculpture was accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring a new essay on Ruby’s work by Nasher Chief Curator, and curator of the exhibition, Jed Morse.
About Sterling Ruby
Ruby (American, Dutch) was born in 1972 on Bitburg Air Base, Germany. He graduated in 1996 from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, Lancaster, and went on to receive a BFA in 2002 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in 2005 from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California. Recent solo exhibitions include CHRON, Drawing Center, New York (2008); SUPERMAX 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008); Grid Ripper, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy (2008–09); SOFT WORK, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (2012, traveled to FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, France; and Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm); CHRON II, Fondazione Memmo Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2013, traveled to Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany); DROPPA BLOCKA, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium (2013); Baltimore Museum of Art (2014); STOVES, Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris (2015); Belvedere Museum, Vienna (2016); and Sterling Ruby: Ceramics, Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (2018, traveling to Museum of Arts and Design, New York). Ruby’s work is featured in museum collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec; Tate, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Ruby participated in the Taipei, Gwangju, South Korea, and Whitney Biennials in 2014; and Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only, the Hammer Museum’s third biennial. Ruby lives and works in Los Angeles.