Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more

Charles Ray: Figure Ground

Baum, Kelly, and Brinda Kumar, with contributions by Charles Ray and Hal Foster
112 pages
87 illustrations
View More Publication Info

This incisive publication explores the formal, conceptual, political, and technical aspects of the work of contemporary American artist Charles Ray.

For Charles Ray (born 1953), sculpture is a way of thinking that informs his work across a wide range of media-from gelatin silver prints to porcelain, fiberglass, wood, and steel. Spanning the whole of his fifty-year career, Charles Ray: Figure Ground considers the artist's intriguing, often unsettling sculptures from both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in relation to his early photographs and performances. It also explores his interest in 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 insights into his multifaceted practice.

Marble statue of a wounded Amazon, Marble, Roman
1st–2nd century CE
Marble grave stele of a little girl, Marble, Parian, Greek
ca. 450–440 BCE
Ten marble fragments of the Great Eleusinian Relief, Marble, Roman
ca. 27 BCE–14 CE
Untitled, Charles Ray  American, Gelatin silver print
1973, printed 1989

View Citations

Baum, Kelly, Brinda Kumar, and Charles Ray. 2022. Charles Ray: Figure Ground [Exhibition, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, January 31, 2021-June 5, 2022]. New York, NY: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.