Talking through his seminal, total-room artworks for Calvin Klein, the artist reveals something of the
state of the nation, the joy of chrome, and why L.A. is the perfect city—because it isn’t real.

show announcement

Sterling Ruby
March 1 through April 15

980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075

Hours: Tue–Sat 10-6

T. 212.744.2313
F. 212.772.7962

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“The psychosis of L.A. is so different,” he says; the artist frequently talks about pathologies and psychoses as related to cities, but it is something that can be seen as a metaphor for his own work. “Los Angeles is the perfect city because it is not a real city—it’s the geography and diversity of the place. When I first moved to L.A., I was fascinated by the extremely rural patches with people living on them, and then suddenly there could be a luxury high-rise condo. There are mountains with snow, the desert, downtown, and the beach—it’s a schizophrenic landscape.”

“I always wanted to chrome
a security door.”

And so too Ruby’s use of multiple mediums could be seen to be part of a “schizophrenic landscape”; from the connotations of feminine craft in ceramics and textiles to the hypermasculine sculptures and vast paintings—and then there are the crosses between the two, the soft sculptures and mobiles. It is a true mark of Sterling Ruby the artist that his signature is instantly recognizable in all mediums.

Which brings us to the 12th floor of the Calvin Klein headquarters and a cross-cultural, schizophrenic artwork if ever there was one. Here the collision of Ruby the artist, designer, and disruptor really comes into play. With its paint-spattered, canvas-covered walls—in red, white, and blue no less—with its banana yellow Formica intrusions and giant soft sculptures that seem to have rolled in like huge snakes, the high-concept Americana continues. Again there is the glittering chrome—including a rather lovely crowbar-made ornament—but this time it mostly serves the purpose of displaying clothes. For this is the sales and press floor of Calvin Klein HQ and the place where art truly meets commerce within the building. It is perhaps also the biggest sign of a cultural shift at Calvin Klein toward something downright weirder.

“It is an interesting project to intervene in at this point in time,” says Ruby. “To intervene in a massive American corporate structure that is known for making statements about American life—it’s really something.”

Quite frankly, how could he resist?

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Sterling Ruby, PHALANX, 2017 Ceramic (97.8 x 38.1 x 37.5 cm) Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio. Sterling Ruby, CRUX. YELL., 2016 Acrylic, oil, elastic and fabric on canvas. (Painting: 144.8 x 110.5 x 5.1 cm) Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio.
Sterling Ruby, HEART (6175), 2016 Ceramic (6.4 x 64.8 x 43.2 cm) Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio. Sterling Ruby, Basin Theology/SAVRY, 2016 Ceramic (111.8 x 94 x 109.2 cm) Photo by Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio.

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