Press release

 The ICA presents the extraordinary art of Charles LeDray

 CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork
July 16 – Oct. 17, 2010
 Exhibition to travel to Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Boston, Mass.—This summer, the Institute of Contemporary Art opens an exhibition of the extraordinary art of New York-based artist Charles LeDray. Remarkable for their unexpected scale and fine detail, his sculptures can stop us in our tracks for the sense of wonder they elicit and the deeper human stories they suggest. The artist stitches together complete, tiny men’s suits, shirts, and other clothing. Cuffs, collars, hems, and buttons are all made by the artist. He throws thousands of ceramic pots, each barely the size of a finger. Objects carved from bone—a door, a bench, a model of the solar system—are each rendered with breathtaking precision. Accompanied by a full-color publication, this exhibition includes approximately 50 sculptures and installations, from early works to a new installation never before on view. Organized by ICA Associate Curator Randi Hopkins, CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork runs from July 16 to Oct. 17, 2010.  After its debut at the ICA, the exhibition travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (Nov. 18, 2010—Feb. 13, 2011) and to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (May 8—Sept. 11, 2011). 

“The scale and technical virtuosity of Charles LeDray’s art create a magnetic pull to his work,” says ICA Director Jill Medvedow. “But it is his consistent inquiry into the complex overlaps between community and the individual, uniqueness and diversity, absence, mourning, and celebration that give LeDray’s art its aesthetic power and great humanity.”
In an era of high-tech, mass production, LeDray insists on a painstaking manual process that lends deep feeling to each of his works. In this, LeDray diverges from many artists of his generation who embraced a hands-off, fabricated method of art-making. While LeDray’s techniques are rooted in the traditions of folk art and he learned to sew at home, his art is in no way “naïve.” He absorbed and was inspired by centuries of art as a museum guard and art handler, and has drawn comparisons to artists such as Robert Gober and Mike Kelley.  
"LeDray doesn't set out to make small-scale sculpture—a notion that might strike you as odd when you're bending down to get a better look at one of his creations, " says Hopkins. "The sculptures can be considered simply the size they need to be—small enough to demand that we look closer and to let us know they've been made by hand. These works aren't undersized but concentrated, with an emotional impact that far exceeds their dimensions."
Featuring nine galleries of work spanning 25 years, CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork offers a rich view of the ideas and themes that have evolved and developed through the artist’s career. For example, the first gallery that viewers enter contains the welcoming, homey “Hall Tree” (2006), hung with coats but with a few hooks still free; the colorful, exuberant “Party Bed” (2006-2007); “Village People” (2003-2006), an installation of 21 tiny hats that conjures a parade of identities; and also “Orrery” (1997), LeDray’s earliest work carved from bone, which references ancient models of our solar system. Some works are connected to personal history and memory, others to communities and social milieus, or one’s sense of time and place within a vast universe—all ideas that are recurrent throughout the exhibition. 
LeDray's most recent work is characterized by increasingly expansive, multi-part installations that take the artist years to create. The exhibition will premiere "Throwing Shadows" (2008-2010), an extraordinary new ceramic work including more than 3,000 small black porcelin pots. It also features the U.S. debut of the installation "MENS SUITS" which recreates three rooms of a second-hand clothing shop to precise, yet intimately wrought detail and scale. In a scene that feels suspended in time, LeDray's art invites viewers to imagine the lives through which these objects seem to have passed.
Artist bio
Charles LeDray was born in 1960 in Seattle, Washington, and currently lives and works in New York. CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork, a major exhibition surveying 25 years of the artist’s work opens this summer at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (July 16—Oct. 17, 2010). The exhibition will travel to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (Nov. 18, 2010—Feb. 13, 2011) and to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (May 8—Sept. 11, 2011).  The artist’s previous exhibitions include a solo show organized by the ICA Philadelphia (2002); and a number of significant group exhibitions including Sculpture, the Cartin Collection, Hartford, Connecticut (2005); Past Presence: Childhood and Memory, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005); and the Lyon Biennale, France (2000). In 1993, LeDray received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and in 1997 he was the recipient of the Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome. The artist’s work can be found in major public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The ICA and Skira/Rizzoli are co-publishing a comprehensive illustrated catalogue designed by Stefan Sagmeister. The publication features a foreword by ICA Director Jill Medvedow; and essays by former ICA Curator Jen Mergel; Artangel Co-Director and Curator James Lingwood; and Whitney Museum Director Adam Weinberg. 
Press Preview
A press preview for CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork will be held on Tuesday, July 13, at 9:30 a.m. RSVP to Colette Randall at 617-478-3181 or
Exhibition tour
Following its Boston presentation, CHARLES LEDRAY: workworkworkworkwork travels to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (Nov. 18, 2010—Feb. 13, 2011), and to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (May 8—Sept. 11, 2011).
Exhibition-related programs
Gallery Talk: Shop Talk

Sunday, July 25, 2 pm
LeDray’s Mens Suits, a three-part, scaled-down store display, is a fascinating look at the relationship between clothing and identity. Join Christopher Luxton and Sue Otto, Creative Directors at Urban Outfitters, as they discuss the role of display in their (full-size) stores. Free with museum admission.
Gallery Talk: Dress Patterns
Sunday, August 8, 2 pm
Take a closer look at LeDray's remarkable handmade garments with Kathleen McDermott, a historian who has spent 20 years pursuing the connections between history, business, culture, and fashion. An instructor in fashion history at MassArt and RISD, she is also an accomplished hat designer. Free with museum admission.
About the ICA
An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for more than 70 years. Like its iconic building on Boston's waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas.  The ICA, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am - 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am - 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am - 5 pm.  Admission is $15 adults, $13 seniors and $10 students, and free for members and children 17 and under. ICA Free Admission for Youth is sponsored by State Street Foundation. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 5 - 9 pm. Free admission for families at ICA Play Dates (2 adults + children 12 and under) on the last Saturday of the month. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at


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