Sterling Ruby, Basin Theology/Dark Plate Helm, 2016, ceramic, 42 1/2 × 46 × 42 1/2 inches (108 × 116.8 × 108 cm) © Sterling Ruby Studio. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer.
Sterling Ruby is quite versatile in regards to his aesthetic strategies and works in a variety of media—glossy and color-saturated poured polyurethane sculptures, drawings, collages, richly glazed ceramics, graffiti-inspired spray paintings, and video—maintaining a constant tension within a multitude of elements. His work engages with issues related to the violence and pressures within society, autobiography, and art history. Throughout, he vacillates between fluid and static, minimalist and expressionist, pristine and dirty. Of the diverse forms that constitute his oeuvre, the paintings are the most formally abstract. Ruby has long been influenced by the sociological implications of urban demarcation, vandalism, and the power struggles of gang graffiti. In his paintings, acts of defacement are transformed into a painterly sublime.
Sterling Ruby was born in 1972 on Bitburg Air Base in Bitburg, Germany. He graduated in 1996 from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, Lancaster. Ruby received his B.F.A. in 2002 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, and his M.F.A. in 2005 from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Ruby’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Recent solo exhibitions include “CHRON,” The Drawing Center, New York (2008); “SUPERMAX 2008,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2008); “Grid Ripper,” Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, 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, Belgium (2013); Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (2014); “STOVES,” Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris (2015); and the Belvedere Museum, Vienna (2016). 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, California; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Ruby participated in the Taipei, Gwangju, and Whitney Biennials in 2014; and “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only,” the Hammer Museum’s third biennial. The recently acquired SOFT WORK (2011–13) installation will be on view at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA through June of this year. A survey show of Ruby’s ceramic works will open at the Des Moines Art Center in 2018.
Ruby currently lives and works in Los Angeles.