9.08.2010

Petite Sizes Only: Charles LeDray at Boston's ICA

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Charles, 1995, about 24 x 18 inches; from the ICA website

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I remember the thrill of seeing Charles Le Dray’s tiny clothing sculptures back when SoHo was in full swing, some 20 years ago. That thrill has not diminished in workworkworkworkwork, LeDray’s retrospective at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, up through October 17.

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Each minuscule garment—mostly men’s clothing in adult-proportion sizes from newborn to midget Barbie—is often festooned with even smaller garments. Think Russian nesting dolls, but with everything out in the open. I particularly liked a weensy suit made from the clippings of a teensy suit, the smaller hanging from the larger—a mini-me and its own liliputian doppelganger. (A related bit of poetry: a bound book with the corner cut out and a miniature book of the same materials set into the space.)

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Over time LeDray’s vision has gotten bigger—his room-size installation of Mens Suits features three on-the-rack vignettes—but the scale of the individual works has not changed, a Mens Wearhouse through-the-looking-glass.

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Mens Suits, installation view 2009; from the ICA website

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Below, detail from another vignette in the installation; from the Internet

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Here's what I learned from the ICA guards, who are eager to offer information: Everything is made by LeDray, right down to the pipe racks and hangers. Even the dust atop the lowered ceiling in the image above was created and placed by the artist

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Party Bed, 2006-2007, about 18 inches high; from the ICA website

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Village People, 2003-2006; from the ICA website

What you and our viewer are looking at is an installation of tiny hats. You can see a detail on the ICA website

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I’m sorry to say that photography was not allowed at the ICA. I’ve thus pillaged the ICA site and elsewhere on the Internet to bring you some images, showing you scale wherever possible. The pity is that here you only get a hint of the scale, and you can't see how the works relate to one another or get a sense of the flow from gallery to gallery. (Nancy Natale posted a funny piece on what she could photograph at the ICA. Franklin Einspruch's review of the show is here.)

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Except for the too-high hats (image above), Curator Randi Hopkins did a good job with the selection and installation, though the show could have been, well, a tiny bit smaller. Workworkworkworkwork travels next to the Whitney and then to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

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Connecting Some Other Dots:

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Joe Fig's small-scale sculptures of artists in their studios, and his book, Inside the Painter’s Studio and . . .

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. . . Beverly Semmes’s enormous sculptural dresses

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7 comments:

annell said...

Thanks for this post. It looks very interesting!

Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

Goody. I will get to see it in person. Thanks, Joanne, for the post.

Nancy Natale said...

Good post on some interesting work, Joanne! Too bad you weren't permitted to photograph your own unique view of things. All I can say is that it's a good thing that the guards are so friendly, helpful and informative. If it weren't for them, the ICA would be a formal and sterile place indeed.

Karen Wallace said...

Love this work. Thanks. Warmly, Karen

Pam Farrell said...

In the summer issue of Artforum, featuring a series of pieces on museums, ICA director Jill Medavow spoke about the dual role of the guards, who are present to oversee the art, but also to provide additional information about the art/artists to interested patrons.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to converse with the guards, who were well-informed and provided a unique perspective. This indeed helped to make the experience a fuller one.

Now if they would just change the photography policy...

Cynthia said...

Thanks so much for this post Joanne! I'm not familiar with this artist and I find the work fascinating! What is it about out-of-scale items that is so alluring? I'm even drawn to the "baby" vegetables in the produce section!

The best news is that the show is coming to Houston! Can't wait to see it up close and personal!

mary said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the LeDray show and recommend it highly. The human bone pieces are exquisite to look at but made me very uncomfortable to think about. The scale, detail and choice of the objects all are amazing. While I was at the show I kept thinking I'd love to see him working, his hands must be very fine to work so small. I kept recalling my clumsy attempts to make doll clothes years ago.