new-york

Sterling Ruby, Basin Theology/Double Basin, 2011, ceramic, 8 x 37 x 38". From the series “Basin Theology,” 2009–.

Sterling Ruby and Lucio Fontana

Andrea Rosen Gallery

Sterling Ruby, Basin Theology/Double Basin, 2011, ceramic, 8 x 37 x 38". From the series “Basin Theology,” 2009–.

In a 2006 article on his work (which earned attention while he was still a student), Sterling Ruby speaks to the author regarding his abiding interest in “the idea of something malleable being stopped.” In Ruby’s terms, this means manipulations in materials that start out molten or flowing and then set, such as bronze and ceramic, urethane and nail polish. Male sexuality is implicated, as is the rhetoric of power: Is it most impressive to be unyielding? Or does potency inhere in a gushiness that morphs rather than shatters? The juxtaposition of Ruby’s sculpture with that of Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) suggests how many cults of belief could be passed through these same questions, as if through a factory smelter or psychoanalytic session. Is painting soft while sculpture is hard? Is history hard while the present is soft? Into which category—rigid or plastic—should we put

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