Sterling Ruby, Fai Khadra and Sotheby’s celebrate our Contemporary Artist Series
The auction house convened a special panel featuring the artist and the collector to discuss the book series' quarter century legacy
Sterling Ruby can remember a time when pretty much any image wasn't just a Google search away. The 48-year-old artist grew up in rural Pennsylvania in the 1980s and early 1990s, where his nearest neighbour was miles away, and his trip to school consisted of an hour-long bus ride.
The area was, as he recalled in a panel discussion, hosted by Phaidon and Sotheby’s, “extremely small, extremely conservative and predominantly white.” How did this nascent artist learn about the wider art world? Mainly via printed matter.
“Books were always something that were accessible,” he explained in an online chat with Phaidon commissioning editor Michele Robecchi last week: “You'd collect them in the same way you’d collect records.”
One particular set of books that inspired the artist and remained on his bookshelves is our own Contemporary Artist Series and the talk was staged to celebrate the series’ 25th anniversary, a milestone that Ruby is keen to celebrate, both as a collector and as a featured artist in the series.
“It was the first time I bought a Jenny Holzer book; it was the first time I bought a Mike Kelley book,” he said, commenting on the importance of the series. “It was also the first opportunity that I got to hold something that showed and explained in visual context how my work operates.”
Ruby’s own Contemporary Artist Series book came out in 2016 and was highly prized by younger collectors and fans, such as the LA singer, model, art lover and influencer Fai Khadra. Khadra also took part in the group discussion, which was co-hosted by Sotheby's Head of Contemporary Curated Sales, Ashkan Baghestani.
Though 29-year-old Khadra grew up in the Instagram age, he still values the printed page. “Often, the first time I was introduced to those artists and saw their work was through those books,” he told the panel.
Care to enlighten yourself just as Fia and Sterling have? Then take a look at our Contemporary Artist Series, here. We're running a special offer of 25% off this week to celebrate the anniversary. Use code CAS25 at checkout. You can order the Sterling Ruby book here.