Smithsonian Collections

Ray Charles

Image for Ray Charles
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition Label
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."
Morgan Monceaux, 9 May 1955 - 31 May 2017
Ray Charles, 23 Sep 1930 - 10 Jun 2004
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Morgan Monceaux
Mixed media: graphite, pastel, black magic marker, wood, fabric, plastic and adhesive on paper
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")
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Object number
Music\Musical instrument\Piano
Costume\Dress Accessory\Eyeglasses\Sunglasses
Costume\Dress Accessory\Tie\Bowtie
Folk Art
Costume\Dress Accessory\Button
Ray Charles: Male
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Composer
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Singer
Ray Charles: Performing Arts\Performer\Musician\Pianist
Ray Charles: Society and Social Change\Physically disabled\Blind
Restrictions & Rights
© 1992 Morgan Monceaux/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY