Sterling Ruby’s collaborations with Calvin Klein are featured in New York Times this month, with the artist redesigning the brand’s New York headquarters floor to ceiling with his own works and installations. “If we’re talking about gender, sexuality, highs, lows, politics — all of those things can be played within the context of this massive corporate American brand, too,” he says. “Maybe these spaces could be a platform for the hypocrisies of both the art and fashion worlds.”
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New York state and Nova Scotia
University of California BA, Santa Barbara
Yale BFA, New Haven, CT
Yale CFA, New Haven, CT
Serra is a sculptor most well known for his gargantuan, site-specific steel sculptures that completely envelope their viewers. These sculptures are comprised of carefully arranged walls gently curving on two axes with space in between for people to walk within the looming rusted passageways. He is often cited as a minimalist, as his work emphasizes materiality and engagement between viewer, site and the work. Serra is known for his avid devotion and development of the notion of process art. All of these intentions, place him in the category of the neo- avant- garde, as defined by Burger.
Serra’s career was jump-started by his Splash series (1968-1970). He dripped and splashed molten lead on the juncture between the wall and the floor. This work was a crucial moment in art history for the site specific artwork, while simultaneously drawing on Jackson Pollock’s emphasis on process and the use of industrial materials in 20th century Russian avant garde works.
Serra’s work became embroiled in controversy, when a commissioned large scale, site specific sculpture Tilted Arc (1981) was removed from the Federal Plaza due to public dismay after eight years of battle. Workers in the area complained that the gently curving 3.5 meter tall piece of steel interfered with pedestrian traffic in the square. The city suggested that the piece be moved. Consistent to the tenets of site-specificity, Serra famously retorted, “To remove the work is to destroy it.” The piece was taken down and turned into scrap metal in 1989.
Serra continues to construct the huge steel installations he is now famous for. His first solo show was in the Leo Castelli ware house, Serra continues to show with Castelli as well as Gagosian Gallery. He has exhibited extensively around the world, including at the MOMA, the Guggenheim Bilbao, Kunsthalle Tubingen, and the Musee National d’Art Moderne.
Serra at MOMA June 3- September 10, 2008 [Art Observed]