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Charles Ray

Puzzle Bottle
1995

Not on view

Date
1995

Classification
Sculpture

Medium
Glass, painted wood, and cork

Dimensions
Overall: 14 1/8 × 3 3/4in. (35.9 × 9.5 cm)

Accession number
95.85a-b

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and Barbara and Eugene Schwartz

Rights and reproductions
© artist or artist’s estate

Puzzle Bottle is a precisely-scaled wooden model of Charles Ray, assembled inside a corked wine bottle like a traditional model ship. For Ray, the sculpture involved an attempt to “use the figure as a structure to build a space that becomes a kind of abstract space,” taking himself—and his hobby of sailing—as subject. The sculpture’s dislocations of scale and context force viewers to adjust their perceptions and reconsider how the human figure occupies space. The miniature figure of Ray stares out from the confined space of the bottle, his worried gaze seeming to question not only how he got there, but also suggesting a larger artistic—and perhaps existential—quandary: is it possible to overcome the limitations of our experience as isolated individuals?    




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