Monday, Apr 01, 2013 - 1:59 pm

San Diego, CA—The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) and The San Diego Museum of Art are pleased to present internationally renowned sculptor Charles Ray as the featured speaker for the 13th annual Axline Lecture on Thursday, May 16 at 7 PM at MCASD La Jolla.  Ray’s work is currently on view at MCASD as part of Lifelike.

Combining a keen interest in materiality with an ethos of performance, Ray’s labor-intensive works serve as calculated meditations on perception and meaning. The Los Angeles-based artistis best known for his uncanny sculptures, which alter and refashion familiar objects, testing the viewer’s ability to discern between what seems to be and what is. Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Timeshas written that Ray’s “career as an artist…is easily among the most important of the last twenty years.”

Much of Ray’s sculpture has focused on finding strangeness in the familiar through shifts in scale, medium, or working method. He has also regularly made self-portraits—each iteration decidedly different from the next and each entering new psychological territory. In No (1995), a work that is featured in Lifelike, as well as on the cover of the exhibition catalogue, the artist worked with commercial mannequin makers to create a striking likeness of himself, which he then photographed.  Here the artist is represented by the model, which in turn is represented by a photograph.  The mannequin was destroyed, leaving the photograph as the only clue for grasping what—if anything—is authentic. 

In 1993, Ray made Firetruck, a 12- by 47-foot replica of a toy fire truck, which he "parked" in front of the Whitney Museum of American Art during that year's biennial exhibition. Perhaps his most labor-intensive piece to date is Hinoki (2007) which is based on an actual rotting tree Ray found in California, which he made into a carefully sectioned mold, then sent to Osaka, Japan, where it was recrafted by master carvers in a years-long process.  Reincarnated in cypress (a different wood from the original tree), the sculpture is a tour-de-force merging of the real and the fabricated.

Since 2000, MCASD and The San Diego Museum of Art have partnered to present the annual Axline Lecture (hosted on alternate years by each museum) in honor of Jackie and Rea Axline, long-time trustees and supporters of both museums who in 1999 bequeathed generous endowments to both institutions.

Previous Axline Lectures have featured Philippe de Montebello (2012), South African artist William Kentridge (2011), architect and Picasso scholar and author John Richardson (2009); artist Maya Lin (2008); artist Richard Serra (2006); and art critic Roberta Smith (2004).

Tickets are $5 for students and Members of MCASD and The San Diego Museum of Art; $10 general admission. For more information, visit

Lifelikeis on viewat MCASD La Jolla through May 27. Lifelike is organized by the Walker Art Center and made possible by generous support from John L. Thomson and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional funding for the San Diego presentation has been provided by a grant from the ResMed Foundation. Institutional support for MCASD is provided, in part, by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.




Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum’s collection includes more than 4,000 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Dr. Hugh M. Davies is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD.

Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.




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