Charles Ray (B. 1953)
Ink Drawing
ink, steel and glass
50½ x 43 x 1¼ in. (128.3 x 109.2 x 3.2 cm.)
Executed in 1988. One of three works, each fabricated invdividually by the artist.
Burnett Miller Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the present owner, 1989
New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Recent Drawing: Roni Horn, Charles Ray, Jim Shaw, Michael Tetherow, February-May 1990 (illustrated, another example exhibited).
Newport Harbor Art Museum, Charles Ray, July-September 1990, pp. 22-23 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

Ink Drawing is an elegant and quintessential work by Charles Ray. It is made from two of his favorite materials, ink and glass, and displays the formal purity and fundamental economy typical of some of his greatest pieces. Despite the work's breathtaking simplicity, it nevertheless raises new, striking questions about perception and form.

In Ink Drawing, Ray has pressed ink between a sheet of glass and a steel background. The ink naturally settles to a level of equilibrium, thereby dividing the work into two zones, the upper portion of transparent glass, and the lower portion filled with opaque black ink. The two zones are rectangles, and the work has the geometric purity also found in some of Ray's other pieces, such as Rotating Circle and Ink Cube. Moreover, in its classic monumentality and Neo-Platonic ideality, Ink Drawing occupies an important place in the tradition of Modern art that begins with Mondrian and continues with Rothko and Marden.

Ray calls the work a drawing, a categorization justified by the ink between the glass. But he could just as easily have called it a painting or sculpture. That is to say, in type and media, Ink Drawing defies standard definition. In this regard, it is like some of his other "sculptures" such as Ink Cube, Tabletop and Bath.

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