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Puzzle Bottle


Charles Ray, Puzzle Bottle, 1995. Glass, painted wood, and cork, 13 3/8 × 3 3/4 × 3 3/4 in. (34 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and Barbara and Eugene Schwartz  95.85a-b
Charles Ray makes sculptures that question how we see the human body, our sense of size and space, and what is real and fake. Puzzle Bottle is a precisely-scaled wooden model of the artist, assembled inside a corked bottle. Ray worked with a craftsperson to make a puzzle portraying his body in small pieces of painted wood that were put together inside the bottle, the same way that a traditional model ship in a bottle is made. The sculpture invites us to consider not only how that tiny figure got there, and how it takes up space within the bottle, but also how our own bodies fill up space in the world.
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