Find, Learn, Price Art
Enjoy the comprehensive art database we've compiled since 1987
Membership Details
Images, sales charts, bios, signatures, 30 artist Alerts and more ...
Art auction records:  Millions of references for pricing research
Or, register for Free Alerts
To track 10 artists.

Already a member?  Sign in here

Charles Ray

 (born 1953)
Charles Ray is active/lives in California, Illinois / Italy.  Charles Ray is known for hypernatural human figure and animal sculpture, installations.

Charles Ray

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Charles Ray
"Charles Ray Joins Ancient and Contemporary in Sculpture Debut in Rome" by Elisabetta Povoledo, May 22, 2017, Art & Design section, The New York Times


Two Charles Ray sculptures are on display at the American Academy in Rome, “Shoe Tie” (2012), and “Mountain Lion Attacking a Dog” (2017).

ROME — Mention the name of the American artist Charles Ray, and Italy holds its breath. Mr. Ray made waves in the country in 2013 when his Boy with Frog, a hyper-naturalistic, 8-foot-tall sculpture commissioned by François Pinault, the French luxury goods magnate and collector, was removed from the Punta della Dogana in Venice because of protests on the part of locals, who demanded the return of a displaced lamppost there, a favorite smooching spot.

In his sculpture debut in Rome on Thursday, Mr. Ray showed Mountain Lion Attacking a Dog, which he developed at the American Academy in Rome, where he is the spring 2017 Deenie Yudell artist in residence. Reaction so far has been muted, perhaps because the work is in a private space, not a public one.

The piece is on exhibit at the academy along with an earlier work, Shoe Tie (2012), two sculptures that Mr. Ray said had been informed by his reflection on two works of antiquity from the Capitoline Museums in Rome that he saw “at different times at the Getty” museum in California, where he lives. One is a fourth-century B.C. sculpture of a lion attacking a horse, the other is a first-century B.C. bronze showing a young boy plucking a thorn from his foot. “For me, those works were really enjoyable,” he said during a public lecture at the Academy on Thursday.

For many years, Mr. Ray has taken long predawn walks in the Santa Monica Mountains, “thinking about the mountain lions” that populate them and how they kill by jumping on a prey’s back. This formed the narrative to both works. Literally, in the case of the dog mauled by the lion, but also in the case of the young boy who by tying his shoe exposes his neck, leaving himself vulnerable, he said.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Charles Ray
A resident of Los Angeles and a major figure there in the contemporary art scene since 1981, Charles Ray creates installation works that include realistic human figures or mannequins, body parts, and eerie still-life arrangements such as human feet emerging from clocks. From his art student days at the University of Iowa, he has expressed himself with sculpture and minimalist performance art that has involved the human body with a shift from abstraction to realism.

In Summer, 1998, a retrospective of his installation work was held at the Whitney Museum in New York City, and in Fall, 1998, a retrospective was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Ray was born in Chicago and earned his B.F.A. in 1975 at the University of Iowa and an M.F.A. in 1979 from Rutgers University. He received Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1985 and 1988.

"Art in America"
"Who's Who in American Art", 2003-2004

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

Share an image of the Artist

  Full access to biographies is
  free each Friday

About  Charles Ray

Born:  1953 - Chicago, Illinois
Known for:  hypernatural human figure and animal sculpture, installations

Essays referring to
Charles Ray