Sterling Ruby - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Tuesday, May 10, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Adam Sender, New York
    Sotheby’s, New York, September 24, 2014, lot 253
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, exh. cat., Sterling Ruby: GRID RIPPER, September 2008 – February 2009, p. 136 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In his vivid hallucinatory spray paintings, luscious ceramics, and the present lot, a formidable and monumental work, Sterling Ruby has cultivated a fluid artistic practice that entails processes of construction, decay, and reassembling. As the artist explains, “The studio [is] to become a kind of excavation site for me. Years of accumulated material and work are spread through the buildings, almost like a dumping ground. This setting has taken my work to another level of cycling through materials….remnants are dug up and reassessed, catalysts are created between works from the past and new works” (Sterling Ruby, 2016).

    This archaeological practice within the space of the studio resulted in his Monument Stalagmite series of 2005 of which the present lot is a pristine example. Monument Stalagmite /Icolagnia, created in 2008 (the year in which Ruby’s first spray painting was completed), is comprised of urethane resin, poured over a structure of wood, PVC pipe and expanding foam. The geological process of creation is referenced in the title: Stalagmite, an icicle-shaped formation that descends from the ceiling of a cave as a result of water dripping over eons of time. Ruby mimics this natural process by allowing his sculptures to hang from the ceiling as layers and layers of liquid urethane are poured down upon it over the course of nearly two months. By manifesting Monument Stalagmite /Icolagnia in such a precise manner, the powerful, skyscraper-like quality of the sculpture is evident, yet the commanding form is propped up by a wooden crutch upon which the work’s title is painted. The duality of power and simultaneous weakness is aptly noted by fellow Los Angeles artist Alex Israel, who has said that Ruby’s “stalagmites are these strong totemic sculptures that appear malleable and liquid. He’s inventing new forms that are somehow both alien and familiar—that feel like they are tapping into the pulse of our time. Sterling’s work doesn’t look like anyone else’s”(Alex Israel, “Sterling Ruby: Balancing Act,” W Magazine, May 9, 2014).


Monument Stalagmite/Icolagnia

PVC pipe, foam, urethane, wood, spray paint and Formica
186 x 72 x 48 in. (472.4 x 182.9 x 121.9 cm)
Initialed, titled and dated "SR 08 ICOLAGNIA" on the underside of the base.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $112,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 10 May 2016