Glenstone Museum Presents Charles Ray

By Editorial Team on December 13, 2021

Thu, 16 December 2021 - Sun, 31 January 2021

Charles Ray, Return to the one, 2020, handmade paper, 59 ½ x 63 x 55 ½ inches (151 x 160 x 141 cm). © Charles Ray, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Opens Thursday, December 16, 2021.

On December 16, Glenstone Museum will open the third in its ongoing series of exhibitions by American artist Charles Ray (b. 1953, Chicago, Illinois). Since the opening of the Pavilions, Glenstone has worked closely with the artist on installations of his work inside Room 8, which rotate every eighteen months. Ray approaches Room 8 as a laboratory of ideas, allowing each presentation to reveal previously uncharted connections between material and form. This third installation explores the tension between balance and instability, self-portraiture, and visual sleights of hand across a range of materials including concrete, steel, hand-made paper, and aluminum. Works on view span the entirety of the artist’s career to date, from an early sculpture conceived in the 1970s to a work completed last year.

“The new installation sheds light on the evolution of Charles Ray’s daring sculpture practice, from his early years when artmaking was akin to solo improvisation, to recent works involving increasingly complex and technically demanding fabrication that can require the labor of several years,” said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone. “Grouping together these works made of disparate materials and from different periods allows viewers to focus on the consistent throughline of ideas that form the core of Ray’s art.”

Works on view will include two sculptures the artist first conceived during his years as an undergraduate student. Untitled (1971) is a direct and structural exercise in gravity and suspension that consists of a leaning tower of stacked cinder blocks braced in place by the weight of a heavy steel rod. Another work, Untitled (1973-1974), incorporates a large angle iron affixed to a steel plate that balances on the corner of a pedestal. Inspired in part by the constructivist nature of sculpture-making practiced by British artist Anthony Caro (1924-2013), Ray was interested in the relationship between the different parts of a sculpture rather than the overall shape and contour of a work. Ray describes his medium during this period as “odds and ends” salvaged from an industrial heap, remarking that “there was no blueprint in the mind, only rules and an activity. We slid things around on the floor until they locked together aesthetically.”[1]

In Return to the one (2020), on view for the first time, the artist utilizes cast paper to depict himself as he appears today, outfitted with an inscrutable expression and everyday clothes. The work echoes another recent example of self-portraiture, Horse and rider (2014), on view outdoors near the entrance to the Pavilions.

Glenstone will publish a fully illustrated catalogue on the occasion of the exhibition, the third publication dedicated to the rotating exhibition series.

[1] Charles Ray, “Length, Weight, and Age of Aquarius,” Charles Ray Volume II, Glenstone Museum, 2021.

About Charles Ray
Charles Ray is an artist based in Los Angeles. In 1998, a midcareer retrospective of his work opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. In 2014–2015, his work was the subject of a career retrospective co-organized by the Kunstmuseum Basel and the Art Institute of Chicago. In January 2022, a solo presentation will open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, followed shortly thereafter by simultaneous retrospective exhibitions in Paris at the Centre Pompidou and Bourse de Commerce in February 2022.

About Glenstone
Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, D.C. Established by the not-for-profit Glenstone Foundation, the museum opened in 2006 and provides a contemplative, intimate setting for experiencing iconic works of art and architecture within a natural environment. The museum includes its original building, the Gallery, as well as additional structures opened in its 2018 expansion: the Arrival Hall (LEED platinum), the Pavilions, and the Café (both LEED gold).

Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds or participate in self-guided sculpture tours. Admission to Glenstone is free and visits can be scheduled online at: www.glenstone.org. Same-day visits can be scheduled online.

Students 12 and older, active-duty military members, and museum professionals enjoy guaranteed entry for themselves plus one guest upon presenting a valid identification card at the Arrival Hall. Advance registration is not required for visitors in these categories. Passengers who arrive at Glenstone on the Ride On bus (route 301) are also offered guaranteed entry.

At Glenstone, masks are currently required except when visitors and associates are outdoors and more than six feet apart from other households. For a list of current visitor guidelines, please review the Plan Your Visit page on www.glenstone.org.

Glenstone Museum is located at 12100 Glen Road, Potomac, MD.