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Sterling Ruby in Un patrimoine méconnu. Tableaux du diocèse de Paris du XVe au XXe siècle

18 October— 16 December 2023
Collège des Bernardins, Paris, France

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This fall the Collège des Bernardins will hold its first heritage exhibition titled A Little-Known Heritage: Paintings from the Diocese of Paris from the Fifteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. 14 works from the collections of the Diocese of Paris will be hung in the old sacristy. Through this selection, the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Art wishes to highlight recent scientific advances around this little-known heritage. These rediscovered works bear witness to the variety of diocesan collections: Maurice Denis, Domenico Piola, Nicolas Mignardou and Jean-Gabriel Domergue.

A work by Sterling Ruby which echoes the sacred paintings will also be presented as part of the exhibition. In 2009, Ruby began filling large, flat-bottomed ceramic basins with fractured and discarded clay fragments, fusing the entire assemblage through a weeks-long firing process. The Basin Theology works exude an industrial aura with their protruding cylinders and shards, but they are also fundamentally organic objects. Covered in thick layers of shimmering glaze, they resemble miniature archaeological digs.

The title of the series evokes the rich Christian symbolism of the basin as a purifying vessel, referring both to Pontius Pilate washing his hands of Jesus Christ's condemnation and to Jesus' humble act of using a basin to wash the feet of his disciples. Through the work titled Basin Theology/BRAVAMAX, Ruby – who often cites the lasting influence of his upbringing in faith-dominated rural America – unveils a purifying action similar to his artistic approach, allowing the process of annealing to transform waste in biomorphic containers with a life of its own.