Charles Ray’s sculptures are often loosely patterned on pre-existing ideas and things. Such is the case with Tractor (2005), which takes as its point of departure a boyhood memory and, more directly, an abandoned vintage tractor found in the San Fernando Valley, California.
In order to sculpt the entire vehicle inside and out, Ray had the original retrieved and disassembled. Studio assistants modeled each part in clay, creating representations that retain evidence of their maker’s hands.
After molds were taken and waxes created, the elements were cast in aluminum and reassembled to make a complete, topological object that is both relic and reliquary. In its uniformity of color, patina, and material as well as its semi-reflective surface, Tractor asserts its abstract qualities.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as part of the Exhibit, Charles Ray: Figure Ground.