Sterling Ruby - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Saturday, May 7, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Emi Fontana, Milan
    Private Collection, Switzerland
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Geneva, BFAS Blondeau Fine Art Services, Why Painting Now?, September 17 - December 19, 2009
    London, Inigo Philbrick, Spray, Memory: Sterling Ruby & Mike Kelley, May 25 - July 31, 2015

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sterling Ruby’s enigmatic series of paintings, all done in ethereal layers of spray paint on canvas, have become one of the most iconic and easily recognizable works of the 21st century. His work is regarded as a reaction to and rejection of the minimalist artistic tradition. He has been proclaimed by contemporary art critics as one of the most interesting artists to emerge in the twentieth century due to his examination of the psychological sphere in which expression confronts constraint. Ruby’s works are clearly influenced by the ubiquity of urban graffiti and the artist’s works often appear defaced, camouflaged and disfigured. The artist has cited a diverse range of influences and sources in his oeuvre; such as psychological diseases, hip-hop culture, public art, waste, decline and consumption.

    SP25 is one of his earliest in the series – each are titled SP followed by a number corresponding to its chronology – and is a stunningly complex manifestation of this work. The composition of the present example is notable; the inky blackness along the lower edge extending outwards like an ocean shadowed in dusk; the three diagonal lines cutting across the surface like jet contrails; the intense gradient of deep pink into stormy grey all contribute to a quasi-apocalyptic Los Angeles sunset scene. Incorporating all the elements of his practice, Ruby has executed a masterful work on canvas which defies easy convention and confronts the viewer both in its material beauty and psychological pathos all at once.



acrylic and spray paint on canvas
96 x 84 in. (243.8 x 213.4 cm)
Initialed, titled and dated "SP25 'S.R.08.'" on the reverse.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $581,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 May 2016