Sterling Ruby - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sprueth Magers, London

  • Exhibited

    Saatchi Gallery, London, Shape of things to Come: New Sculpture, 27 May - 16 October 2011
    Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, SUPERMAX 2008, 2008

  • Literature

    Exh. Cat., The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London, 2011, p. 84
    Meghan Dailey, Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Jonathan Cape, 2009, pp. 332-339
    Exh. Cat., SUPERMAX 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    Sterling Ruby’s monumental sculpture, Monument Stalagmite/Headbanger, employs the visual motif of the stalagmite, a spire-like mineral tower usually found rising from cave floors. The American artist’s hybrid materials and varied approach – ranging from sculpture to canvas to video to ceramics – suggests the Wagnerian concept of Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), and this outstanding work is no exception. Standing at nearly five metres tall, it evokes fantastical topographies, its sheer verticality dominating the viewer by commanding the architectural space it stands in. This is no accident, for the idea of the monument is a major trope in Ruby’s conceptual strategy: “The monument plays a big role in much of my work because it is defined as a structure built for the sole purpose of remembering something that has been lost. [I am] addressing the way artists of my generation felt trapped by a kind of postmodern burden of ideas, theories and histories. It seemed impossible to make a sincere gesture any more. This was my monument to all of that.” (Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, exh. cat., Saatchi Gallery, London, 2011)

    The work was included in SUPERMAX, Ruby’s 2008 solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The show’s title was a deliberate reference to US maximum security prisons – highlighting Ruby’s social, psychological, physical and emotional interests and themes. Set within the larger context of SUPERMAX, Monument Stalagmite/Headbanger’s overwhelming presence "evoked issues of repression and control and cumulated in a massive total environment … [the] slickly glazed, gnarled and organically shaped [forms] suggest dismembered body parts. Huge, cantilevered, beam-like works lean somewhat impossibly across the room – ‘physics sculptures,’ as the artist calls them, referring alternatively to the interest in weight and balance as well as more explicitly human concerns including sexuality, gendering as a social construct, intimacy and expression.” (S. M. Momin in A. Ellegood and N. Adajania, Vitamin 3-D: New Perspectives in Sculpture and Installation, London, 2009, p. 256)


Monument Stalagmite/Headbanger

PVC pipe, formica, urethane, spray paint and wood
515 x 123 x 103 cm (202 3/4 x 48 3/8 x 40 1/2 in)
Signed, titled and dated 'SR. 08 Headbanger' on the underside.

£70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for £85,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

14 February 2013