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Manta Ray

A work made of oil on canvas, wood paneling, and potted plant.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas, wood paneling, and potted plant.




William Leavitt
American, born 1941

About this artwork

Since the late 1960s, William Leavitt has produced sculptural tableaux, works on paper, and performances that draw upon and embrace the blurred lines between real and fake that characterizes much of Southern California culture. The artist’s installations evoke a “theater of the ordinary,” quoting strangely familiar locations such as soap-opera sets, furniture showrooms, and suburban interiors. These constructions—always empty and pur- posefully incomplete—summon recognizable spaces but are also evidently artificial. The objects in Manta Ray are like characters in a play, ripe with potential. Leavitt has explained that in these works he is “trying to frame some story through an object or a painting or a situation that would lend itself to further narrative.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


William Leavitt


Manta Ray


United States (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1981


Oil on canvas, wood paneling, and potted plant


8 × 5 × 2 feet, installed Painting: 30 × 40 in., artist's frame 34 1/4 × 44 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by Stephanie Skestos Gabriele

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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