The New Beetle


Charles Ray ( American, 1953 )

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General Description

Resplendently perfect, The New Beetle demonstrates the artist's painstaking process - it takes him years to complete a work. This timeless work harkens back to the millennia-old tradition initiated in the Greco-Roman era - references to a Renaissance cherub playing with bow and arrow, or the Spinario painstakingly removing a thorn from his foot come to mind. But in its machine-made perfection, this young male nude is a product of our present day; he is a child, pushing his model toy Volkwagen across the floor. Cast in stainless steel and painted white to resemble marble, the young boy sits with his face to the ground, oblivious to the world and intently focused on his toy. His position, and resultant facelessness, complicates any identification of or with him. Standing above him, the viewer is placed in a position of both authority and nostalgia, looking down and backwards towards a fixed rendering of the fleeting experience of childhood innocence.

Adapted from

Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 112.