Charles Ray (b. 1953)
Charles Ray (b. 1953)


Charles Ray (b. 1953)
Ray, C.
signed 'Charles Ray' on label affixed to back of frame--signed and dated 'B. McKinney 12-91' lower right
non photo blue pencil, marker and ink on illustration board
16 x 11in. (42 x 29.2cm.)
Mark Ewert, Los Angeles
Feature Inc., New York
M. Ewert and M. Watkins, eds., Ruh-Roh, Los Angeles November 1992 (illustrated).
New York, Feature Inc., Representational Drawings, April-May 1995 (illustrated on invitation).

Lot Essay

In this untitled drawing by Charles Ray, an enraged Superman has just blown through a reinforced concrete wall to ask a rather anti-heroic, "normal" guy the seemingly vital question: "WHO THE FUCK IS ROY LICHTENSTEIN?!?!" The inconspicuous character stunned while reading in bed is not some evil mastermind, but the artist himself who, it appears, has become accountable for the "offensive" artistic acts of his Pop predecessor Roy Lichtenstein. The threat Lichtenstein and, more broadly the legacy of Pop art, poses to the mighty superhero is not one of world domination, but rather, of art world domination. Using the comic-book style that made Lichtenstein notorious, Ray illustrates the clash of "High" and "Low" embodied in the figures of the artist and the superhero respectively.

In a gesture that seems to one-up his predecessor, however, Ray did not make this drawing himself. Instead he hired the professional cartoonist B. McKinney (whose signature appears in the lower right) to work with him to complete the drawing for inclusion in the Thanksgiving 1992 edition of Ruh-Roh, a Comix magazine edited by Mark Ewert and Mitchell Watkins. ("Ruh-roh" is taken from the vocabulary of Dino the Dinosaur, pet of the television cartoon family "The Flinstones".) Other artists who have contributed to Ruh-Roh include: Jim Shaw, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettibon, Karen Finley, Mike Kelley, Kathy Acker, William Burroughs, Sadie Benning, Lari Pittman and Allen Ginsberg. Active primarily as a sculptor, this work represents Ray's only drawing to date.

Ray has appeared frequently in his own work, as a performer and as a subject in both sculpture and photographs. A 1973 photograph, for example, documents a performance in which Ray had himself pinned to the wall by a wood plank (reminiscent of John McCracken's planks and Richard Serra's prop pieces) to express the artist's precarious yet inescapable reliance upon his minimalist predecessors. In this untitled drawing Ray positions himself, once again, as the unwitting victim, here called upon to answer for the artistic "indiscretions" of Pop art.

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