Charles Ray Figure Ground Kelly Baum, Brinda Kumar, Charles Ray, Hal Foster

Publication date:
22 Feb 2022
Metropolitan Museum of Art
112 pages: 254 x 229mm
87 color illus.
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This career-spanning publication features conceptual, political, formal, and technical perspectives on the work of contemporary sculptor Charles Ray

For Charles Ray (b. 1953), one of today’s foremost American artists, sculpture is a way of thinking that informs his work across a wide range of media—from gelatin silver prints to porcelain, fiberglass, and steel. Ray’s practice is well known but not well understood, a paradox this volume sets out to redress. Spanning the whole of his 50-year career, Charles Ray: Figure Ground considers the artist’s intriguing, often unsettling sculptures from both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in relationship to his early photographs, performances, and installations. It also explores his long-standing fascination with Mark Twain’s 1884 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Kelly Baum addresses patterns and patterning in Ray’s art, foregrounding his engagement with preexisting traditions, classicism among them, as well as charged issues around race, gender, and sexuality. Brinda Kumar investigates the modalities of touch that run through Ray’s work, while a reflection by Ray himself and a conversation between the artist and Hal Foster offer further views into Ray’s multifaceted practice.

Kelly Baum is the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Curator of Contemporary Art, and Brinda Kumar is associate curator, both in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
(January 31–June 5, 2022)