Sterling Ruby at Cycladic: Ceramics on View in Athens May 12-June 21

April 10, 2021

ATHENS – The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens has invited acclaimed American artist Sterling Ruby for an intervention in the Museum’s permanent collections, showcasing a selection of his famous ceramic sculptures. The installation entitled Sterling Ruby at Cycladic: Ceramics further extends to the Dolly Goulandris wing and is scheduled for May 12-June 21, with dates subject to national public health guidelines. 

It is the second instance, following the Ai Weiwei at Cycladic exhibition in 2016, that the Museum has invited an artist to juxtapose their work with its permanent collections. This time, Sterling Ruby, who continuously pushes the boundaries of artistic creation, places a selection of his works loaned to the Museum among the rare artifacts of its famous Cycladic Art Collection.     

The ceramic sculptures presented take a variety of forms, from smaller utilitarian objects, like mortars or ashtrays, to larger basin forms, as well as figurative, floral and totemic shapes.

As the artist explains: “The works are hand-wrought and anthropomorphic; many of these vessels are made with pieces from earlier damaged works that I have collected and refired, sometimes up to 10 times. The works stand as monuments to failed attempts and futile gestures, covered in lustrous glazes with variegated colors – a result of their multiple kiln-firings. Contained within these sculptures are notions of archaeological excavation or exhumation, an allegorical acknowledgement of both personal and art historical burdens and debts, a reanimation of the objects and ideas from the past.”

Ruby, who employs diverse material and aesthetic strategies across a range of mediums, including sculpture, drawing, collage, painting, and video, comes from a long tradition of California-based ceramic artists. The medium remains central to his practice, utilizing the spatial qualities of sculpting and the chromatics of painting.

Applying this concept of personal excavation to the production of works and as a means of tracing a lineage throughout them, Ruby ascribes archaeology to a prominent place in his oeuvre. At the Museum of Cycladic Art, Ruby’s works converse with representative examples of figurines and vases, tools, weapons, and pottery from all phases of the distinctive Cycladic islands’ culture that flourished in the central Aegean during the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC). As outlined by the artist: “Presented next to the artifacts exhibited in the Museum of Cycladic Art, the ceramics both explore the evolution of the medium and its possibilities and reflect on a modern notion of archaeology.”

The installation was realized with the kind support of Gagosian.   

Sterling Ruby’s work engages with issues related to autobiography, art history, and the violence and pressures within society. Employing diverse aesthetic strategies and mediums—including sculpture, drawing, collage, ceramics, painting, and video—he examines the tensions between fluidity and stasis, Expressionism and Minimalism, the abject and the pristine.     

Born on Bitburg Air Base, Germany, to an American father and a Dutch mother, Ruby moved at a young age to the United States, where he grew up on a farm in southeastern Pennsylvania. There he encountered Amish quiltmaking and Pennsylvania redware pottery, both of which directly inspired his initial forays into garment-making, soft sculpture, and ceramics. Ruby graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, in 1996. He received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002, followed by an MFA from the ArtCenter College of Design, Pasadena, California, in 2005.     

Public collections include the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; LACMA, Los Angeles; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MMFA, Montreal; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; MCA, Chicago; MOCA, Los Angeles; MoMA, NY; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Tate Modern, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

More information is available online: www.cycladic.gr.

Facebook: CycladicArtMuseum

Instagram: @cycladic_museum


ATHENS – Under the ‘ReInHerit’ project, which is funded by the ‘Horizon2020’ program of the European Union, the Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA) in Athens, the Graz Museum in Austria, and the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation in Nicosia have collaborated to develop three thematic exhibitions titled ‘ReThinking’.

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