At the Whitney: It's a Small World

In an enthralling, meticulous solo show, Sculptor Charles LeDray takes familiar objects and shrinks them to elfin proportions.

Friday, November 26, 2010 - 12:00 AM


A pair of men's briefs barely bigger than a silver dollar. Racks of suits barely two feet tall. Vitrines full of thousands of handmade ceramics—none of them bigger than a thimble.

In a wonderfully eccentric solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum—part Victorian curiosity cabinet, part Barbie Dream House—Seattle-born sculptor Charles LeDray takes the objects that we most fetishize and reduces them to so many useless trinkets. There is a miniature straight jacket, teeny tiny books carved out of bigger books and absolutely ethereal carvings made out of human bone, including a miniature model of the solar system that could fit in the palm of a child's hand.

It may sound precious, but LeDray's dry humor keeps it whimsical. Besides, in an era that's all about big and overproduced, there's something refreshing about seeing so many crafty bits created by an artist's own hands. (Unlike a lot of his contemporaries, LeDray doesn't outsource his fabrication and will often spend years working on a piece.)

Among the stand-out items: a web made of miniature clothing, a delicate ear of wheat pieced together out of human bone and a stuffed cat licking its bottom—not to mention, the ensembles (at the exit) of diminutive clothing and invented magazines with names like Jocks. All of it is totally weird, in only the best, most engrossing way.

Charles LeDray, workworkworkworkwork, is up at the Whitney Museum through Feb. 13. Do not miss it!

Carolina A. Miranda
A detail of the installation 'Mens Suits,' from 2006-2009. To give a sense of scale: The racks of clothing extended no higher than my knee - and I'm 5'3".
Carolina A. Miranda
Admiring the 1993 piece 'Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.' There's something potent about seeing articles intended to convey power in such diminutive sizes.
Carolina A. Miranda
Another view of 'Mens Suits' — with human, for scale. The show at the Whitney represents the debut of this work in the U.S.
Carolina A. Miranda
'Mens Suits' is a three-part installation — complete with fluorescent drop ceiling and dust. In fact, dust is included as a material of the piece.
Carolina A. Miranda
LeDray also produces works in ceramic: tiny bowls and other vessels, no two of which are exactly alike. 'Milk and Honey,' above, is part of the Whitney's permanent collection.
Carolina A. Miranda
A detail from the piece, '2000 Vessels' — crafted in 1996-2003.
Carolina A. Miranda
'Throwing Shadows,' one of LeDray's most recent works, is composed of 3,000 diminutive black porcelain pots. Most of these are no bigger than my thumb.
Photograph by Tom Powel. Courtesy of Sperone Westwater
LeDray's most ethereal works are the ones carved out of human bones, such as 'Cricket Cage,' from 2002.
Carolina A. Miranda
At the show's exit: tidy arrangements of items he once photographed on the streets — like the many vendors who peddle odds and ends around New York City.


More in:

Comments [1]

Caroline Ross from Starnberg

I would like to visit NY so bad, but no money, no chance, but with your help, I can travel to the city I love, and see, hear and dream about very special things and people, who live and work there..thank you all

Dec. 08 2010 02:20 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About Gallerina

Carolina A. Miranda is a regular contributor to WNYC and blogs about the arts for the station as "Gallerina." In addition to that, she contributes articles on culture, travel and the arts to a variety of national and regional media, including Time, ArtNews, Travel + Leisure and Budget Travel and Florida Travel + Life. She has reported on the burgeoning industry of skatepark design, architectural pedagogy in Southern California, the presence of street art in museums and Lima's burgeoning food scene, among many other subjects. In 2008, she was named one of eight fellows in the USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program for her arts and architecture blog, which has received mentions in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. In January of 2010, the Times named her one of nine people to follow on Twitter. Got a tip? E-mail her at c [@] c-monster [dot] net


Supported by