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CHARLES RAY (B. 1953)
Plank Piece I-II
signed, numbered and dated 'Charles Ray 1973 3/7' (on the reverse of each board)
two gelatin silver prints mounted on board
each: 40 x 27 in. (101.6 x 68.5 cm.)
Executed in 1973. This work is number three from an edition of seven plus two artist's proofs.
Provenance
Richard Kuhlenschmidt Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1989
Literature
P. Clothier, "Charles Ray: Edgy, Provocative Presences," Artnews, December 1987, p. 98 (another example illustrated in color).
D. Kazanjian, "Ray Beyond Cool," Vogue, September 1995, pp. 558 and 606 (another example illustrated in color).
Distemper: Dissonant Themes in the Art of the 1990s, exh. cat., Washington, D.C./New York, 1996, pp. 80 and 131, fig. 28 (another example illustrated).
V. Rutledge, "Ray's Reality Hybrids," Art in America, no. 11, November 1998, pp. 98 and 100 (another example illustrated in color).
R. Smith, "The Body, Electric: Text and, Yes, Videotape," New York Times, 4 August 2006 (another example illustrated in color).
T. J. Demos, "Previews: Charles Ray," Artforum, vol. 45, no. 1, September 2006, p. 197 (another example illustrated in color).
M. N. Holte, "Charles Ray Slow Dissolve: From Clock Man to Grand Am, One Man's Labor of Love," Art Review, February 2007, p. 62.
Exhibited
Malmö, Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art; London, Institute of Contemporary Art; Kunsthalle Bern and Kunsthalle Zurich, Charles Ray, March-October 1994, pp. 30-31 (illustrated).
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art, PerForms: Janine Antoni, Charles Ray, Jana Sterbak, September-November 1995, pp. 28 and 41 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Passions Privées: Collections particulières d'art moderne et contemporain en France, December 1995-March 1996, pp. 648 and 650, collection C 11, no. 7, pl. a-b (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Los Angeles, Musuem of Contemporary Art, Elusive Paradise: Los Angeles Art from the Permanent Collection, October 1997-November 1999 (another example exhibited).
San Diego, Museum of Contemporary Art; Guadalajara, Museo de las Artes and Instituto Cultural Cabañas; Museo de Monterreu; Mexico City, Museo Universita Contemporáneo de Arte, Santiago de Compostela, Auditorio de Galicia and Iglesia San Domingos de Bonaval and Logroño, Sala Amós Salvador, Double Trouble: The Patchett Collection, June 1998-February 2000, pp. 222-223 and 275 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color) .
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art and Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Charles Ray, June 1998-September 1999, pp. 67 and 116 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Washington, D.C., Corcoran Gallery of Art and Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Jasper Johns to Jeff Koons: Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections, October 2001-October 2002, pp. 192 and 203 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Conversations, September 2002-March 2003 (another example exhibited).
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center and Los Angeles, University of California, Hammer Museum, The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography, 1960-1982, October 2003-May 2004, pp. 15, 268-270 and 326, no. 124 (another example exhibited and illustrated in color).
London, Tate Modern, Open Systems: Rethinking Art c. 1970, June-August 2005 (another example exhibited).
New York, Zwirner and Wirth, Yes Bruce Nauman, July-September 2006 (another example exhibited).
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Charles Ray - Black & White, September-December 2006 (another example exhibited and illustrated).
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Meet Me Around the Corner - Works from the Astrup Fearnley Collection, June-August 2008 (another exampled exhibited).

Lot Essay

Charles Ray's iconic Plank Piece I-II exemplifies a conceptual movement that emerged in the 1970s, which addressed sculpture as an activity rather than relegating it to the realm of objecthood. It continued to expand on an idea that had been central to Ray's work since the early 1970s--the formal investigation of the plane that creates a division between the "above" and the "below." The cultural difference in emphasis given to objects depending on where they are placed in relation to this arbitrary line had always fascinated Ray, and many of his works from this period sought to break down what he saw as the arbitrary delineation between the two zones.
Plank Piece I-II was one of the first pieces in which Ray inserted himself into the work. Dressed casually in black sweater, jeans, and workman's boots, Ray hangs nonchalantly, wedged between the vertical plane of a wall and plank of wood propped up diagonally against it. Using his body weight in counterpoise to the effects of gravity, the artist's suspended body creates a singularly disconcerting, albeit whimsical graphic image.
By inserting his own body, Ray challenges the formal monumentality of works like Richard Serra's Prop pieces, and at the same time elicits a sense of empathy from the viewer. The work also relates to the influence of Bruce Nauman's videotapes from the late 1960s in which he used the surfaces of walls, floors, and corners as formal structures against which to assert the forces of his own body.

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