Nancy Rubins, Dense Bud, 2016, Casted iron, bronze, stainless steel armature, and stainless steel wire cable, 116 × 142 × 132 inches (294.6 × 360.7 × 335.3 cm). Artwork © Nancy Rubins. Installation view at Gagosian West 24th Street, New York. Photo by Rob McKeever.
Nancy Rubins transforms industrial, manufactured objects—such as mattresses, appliances, and boats—into the building blocks of her physically commanding monumental sculptures. Acting as an intermediary between the past and future states of her chosen materials, Rubins hones the formal rather than functional qualities of the discrete components comprising a single, cohesive sculpture. The recent Monochrome series, for example, features numerous canoes and rowboats of varying size anchored around a large steel armature, suspended like leaves on the limb of a tree. Brimming with the entropic energies of a force of nature, her arrangements evoke a precarious equilibrium of objects in space. Rubins’s practice cites both the traditions of modernist American monumental sculpture as well as bricolage, ultimately serving to emphasize the aesthetic possibilities of quotidian objects.
Nancy Rubins was born in 1952 in Naples, Texas. She received her B.F.A. in 1974 from The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and her M.F.A. in 1976 from the University of California, Davis. Recent solo exhibitions include “Airplane Parts and Building, A Large Growth for San Diego,” Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (1994); “Projects 49: Nancy Rubins,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (1995); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (1997); Miami Art Museum, Florida (1999); FRAC Bourgogne, France (2005); “MoMA and Airplane Parts,” SculptureCenter, New York (2006); “Big Pleasure Point,” Lincoln Center, New York (2006); “Drawing, Sculpture, Studies,” Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (2014); and “Table and Airplane Parts,” Gare de Leuglay, France (2015–17). Rubins’s work is featured in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and FRAC Bourgogne, France. Her large-scale outdoor sculptures are on permanent display at leading institutions throughout the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York; and Université Paris Diderot, France. Rubins was honored with the Distinguished Women in Arts Award in 2013 by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Rubins currently lives and works in Topanga Canyon, California.