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Smithsonian Institution Collections

Ray Charles

Ray Charles
Smithsonian Museum
National Portrait Gallery
Description
Few figures in twentieth-century popular music have exerted more influence than Ray Charles. By developing a style that blended the rhythm-and-blues tradition with gospel and rock and roll, Charles helped shape the music and style of other performers while creating such timeless hits as "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road, Jack."
Morgan Monceaux, an amateur musician with no formal training in art, used an innovative mixture of collage technique and found materials to produce a series of portraits of jazz greats. Here, discarded plastic sunglasses signify Charles's blindness, while strips of wood represent piano keys and a microphone stand. Handwritten words surround the figure like an aura, providing biographical details. Monceaux's portraits mirror the improvisational vitality of jazz and honor those musicians like Charles, whom the artist considers "the great rule-breakers of our time."
Artist
Morgan Monceaux, born 9 May 1947
Sitter
Ray Charles, 23 Sep 1930 - 10 Jun 2004
Date
1992-1994
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Morgan Monceaux
Medium
Mixed media: graphite, pastel, black magic marker, wood, fabric, plastic and adhesive on paper
Dimensions
Sight: 102.6 x 76.5 cm (40 3/8 x 30 1/8")
Mat (Verified): 108.6 x 82.6 x 4.8 cm (42 3/4 x 32 1/2 x 1 7/8")
Frame: 112.4 × 86.4 × 7.6 cm (44 1/4 × 34 × 3")
Type
Collage