The Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby (born on an American Air Force 1972 in Bitburg, Germany) is undoubtedly one of the most influential and innovative artists of the generation born in the 1970s and is still one of the most enigmatic, controversial and unfailingly unpredictable figures in the art world. He works prolifically in a wide range of media, from glazed biomorphic ceramics and poured urethane sculptures to large-scale spray-painted canvases, nail polish drawings, collages and videos. Through his varied practice he conducts an assault on traditional artistic materials and social structures, referencing subjects that include marginalized societies, maximum-security prisons, modernist architecture, artefacts and antiquities, graffiti, bodybuilders, the mechanisms of warfare, cults and urban gangs. His work engages with issues related to autobiography, art history, and the violence and pressures within society. Throughout he vacillates between the fluid and the static, the minimalist and the expressionist, the pristine and tarnished.
Within this context the exhibition in the richly decorated baroque rooms of the former residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the Winterpalais, is particularly extraordinary and unique due to the contrast and comparison between the two historical periods and indeed between the two aesthetics. The exhibition represents a survey of the artist’s work including ceramics, bronze, steel and urethane sculptures, mobiles, soft works and tapestries. Ruby’s works create a visual and conceptual opposition when set against the backdrop of the celebration of warfare throughout the Winterpalais.