Lot 39
  • 39

Sterling Ruby

25,000 - 35,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sterling Ruby
  • MS35-2937
  • incised with the artist's initials and dated 10 on the base
  • steel


Xavier Hufkens, Brussels
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Brussels, Xavier Hufkens, Sterling Ruby: Metal Works, November - December 2010

Catalogue Note

Confronting the paradoxes within the precarious mechanisms of power, Sterling Ruby’s MS35-2937 is an amalgamation of readily available construction materials and hallmarks an innovative and wondrously niche epoch in the artist’s prodigious oeuvre. Prompted by a cultural pilgrimage to The Chinati Foundation in Texas, the present work, executed in 2010, belongs to a series of welded sculptures tailored to inherently formalist concerns of construction, perpetual fragmentation and synthesis.

A Mecca for the phenomenological, at Chinati Ruby found himself surrounded by sculptures fabricated by Minimalist icon Donald Judd. MS35-2937 thus follows a trajectory of a priori conceptions and anti-rationalistic intentions. However, beyond austere objectivity, the present work speaks to the demise of an industrial contribution to the American economy, and the dominance the US continues to maintain as the leading military-industrial complex.

Presented on a shallow Modernist plinth, MS35-2937 elevates that which is discarded and mundane into the realm of high art. Redolent of scaffolding, reinforcement bars add tensile strength to the ovoid structure as helical spiral shafts severe the outer framework, perforating the structural integrity of the hollow rim. Simultaneously suggestive of futile support and flux, the rebars pierce, puncture and bisect the outer circumference. A paradoxical and nonsensical maquette, this hybridisation of metal is at once ostensibly stable yet doomed for architectural failure.

Within the work, influences of Russian Constructivism and Brutalist design are certainly discernible, however, Ruby affirms his adversity to such architectural philosophies, espousing an interest in the ephemeral and the handmade. Favouring the amateur, glistening splatters of stainless steel occupy the fissures of the metal joints, while fused into the steel base Ruby has patterned SR10 – an invented personal brand of manufacturing.

In the series Metal Works, many of the twisted metal bars are marked with their point of origin or factory insignia. The rebar used in this particular sculpture is inscribed with the tag – MEXICO, a reference to the precarious socio-political climate that exists along the Texas-Mexican border.

Ruby has created an oeuvre that, while remarkably diverse, is firmly rooted within a complex and coherent artistic strategy. Interrogating the limits of rationality, while questioning the rebellious impulses of those positioned against the confines of social order, MS35-2937 is a superlative example of Ruby’s most intriguing artistic endeavours to date.