Charles Ray (Chicago, 1953) is known chiefly for his enigmatic sculptures, through which he questions viewers’ perceptive judgements in a jarring and unexpected way. Setting out from objects and proximate daily references, Ray works with scale to contest ingrained and stereotypical forms and discourses; for instance, in Family Romance (1993) he depicts a canonical family: a heterosexual couple and their two children, a boy and a girl, all naked. In subverting the scale of the children, who are the same height as their parents, the artist underscores an altered perception of idealised normality.
Although the bulk of Ray’s work encompasses sculptures and installations, in the early days of his artistic career he experimented with more performative pieces, for instance Plank piece I & II (1973), in which his actual body is part of the sculpture.
Ray has participated in Kassel’s documenta IX (1992) and in numerous editions of different biennales: the 50th and 55th Venice Biennale (2003 and 2013), the 9th Sydney Biennale (1992), the 4th Lyon Biennale (1997) and five Whitney Museum of American Art Biennials in New York (1989, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2010), where his work was also the subject of an exhibition in 1998. Furthermore, he has exhibited at the Art Institute de Chicago (2015), Kunstmuseum Basel (2014), and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (1998), among many other museums and art centres. Ray is professor emeritus at the University of California in Los Angeles, where he currently lives and works.