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Sterling Ruby
A Project in Four Acts

Debuting 20 April 2022
Berggruen Arts & Culture, Palazzo Diedo, Venice, Italy

A new sculpture, HEX, by Sterling Ruby, has been installed on the façade of Palazzo Diedo, a historic palazzo in Venice’s Cannaregio district which will be the permanent home of the newly created Berggruen Arts & Culture following its restoration. The artwork marks the first phase of Ruby’s A Project in Four Acts.

Sterling Ruby’s relief sculpture HEX cuts across the façade of Palazzo Diedo, interrupting the classical architecture with a sense of precarity. Influenced by the spatial relations of Constructivism, the components balance on a vector, nodding to 2 the prominence of assemblage in Ruby’s mobile and collage works. The title references “hex signs” — the geometric, hand-painted, star emblems appearing on the sides of Pennsylvanian Dutch barns starting in the early nineteenth century. While some interpret these symbols as protection against the supernatural, most attribute these as abstract images of celestial order, representing an agricultural interest in the stars as an expression of the annual progression of the seasons. Ruby regularly encountered these signs growing up in rural Pennsylvania, drawing upon their primary color palettes and geometric configurations for this sculpture.

Composed of objects including a rusted box truck frame and recycled steel pipes from Los Angeles, along with a beaming red circle and a bright yellow flag, HEX faces outwards as a similar sort of badge for the palazzo.

Decorative and distinct from the structure, it marks the start of the artist’s two-year installation, A Project in Four Acts, in which Ruby will respond to the building as it is restored, reflecting the stages of transformation akin to the cycles of the seasons.