Charles Ray (1953-)
Sheet: 43 × 29 1/2 in. (109.2 × 74.9 cm) Image (Sight): 42 5/16 × 28 3/4 in. (107.5 × 73 cm) Frame: 43 5/16 × 29 3/4 × 1 1/2 in. (110 × 75.6 × 3.8 cm)
13/25 | 5 APs
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Print Committee
The graphic simplicity of Pumpkin Poster, produced by Charles Ray in a limited edition of twenty-five, is deceptive. Its textual elements were inspired by, and might represent, a packet of seeds: “Lumina Pumpkin” would be the fruit’s scientific name, “110 days” its gestation period, “St. Fiacre Seeds” the seeds’ brand name. Yet the produce that purportedly sprouts from these seeds is colorless and wholly artificial; a cast-plaster jack-o-lantern with a generic grin of the sort used for Halloween decoration. While Pumpkin Poster is unique in its status as one of Ray’s first forays into printmaking, it is linked to themes that the artist has explored in sculpture, photography, film, and performance. In proposing the pumpkin as a likeness of its maker, the label “portrait of the artist in heaven,” is a characteristically skewed take-off on conventions of self-portraiture, while the flawed, impossible promise of the sterile seed packet humorously subverts our expected experiences with, and perceptions of, everyday objects.