Sterling Ruby - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Xavier Hufkens, Brussels

  • Exhibited

    London, Dairy Art Centre, Island, October 11 – December 8, 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    Through the use of myriad mediums, Sterling Ruby seeks to expose the cultural mechanisms of control that underlie contemporary culture. Among his most recognizable bodies of work are his kaleidoscopic spray-paintings, which are the most formally abstract of his modes of production. Occupied with the formal elements of density, overlapping, shading, and diversity of shape and line, the large-scale canvases both reference and reject the established aesthetics of color-field abstraction. Utilizing a varied, almost hallucinogenic color palette, which ranges from deep black to acid pinks and greens, the artist creates a somber mood which recalls the realistic tones of the metropolis in which most graffiti is found. The present lot, SP196 of 2012, is a monumental piece exemplifying the very characteristics for which the artist’s graffiti works are known. Through the use of both horizontal and diagonal layers of spray paint, Ruby is able to build depth within the picture plane.

    Instead of looking to fill a specific space bound by the canvas, he turns the work inward offering an intriguing look that engrosses the viewer. The hazy background produces an ever-shifting horizon line, which asserts its radiant presence transforming an act of defacement into the painterly sublime. Ruby’s interest in the use of spray paint was a direct result of the power struggles of territorial gang tagging he witnessed upon his move to Los Angeles. In a recent interview with the artist he explains, “I found it almost impossible to ignore my generation’s continued struggle to find ways to make a meaningful painting” (S. Ruby in interview with Ysabelle Cheung, Gagosian Gallery, September 3, 2014). Like many street artists, Ruby is interested in bringing down the walls that separate the formal and the informal as well as inventing new forms that feel both foreign, yes deeply familiar.



spray paint on canvas
100 x 143 7/10 in. (254 x 365 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "'SP196 SR12" on the reverse.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $665,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm