25
25
Man Ray
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 1949
SIGNED 'MAN RAY' AND DATED '49' (LOWER RIGHT), SIGNED 'MAN RAY', DATED '49' AND TITLED 'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING' (ON THE STRETCHER); OIL ON CANVAS.  
JUMP TO LOT
25
Man Ray
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 1949
SIGNED 'MAN RAY' AND DATED '49' (LOWER RIGHT), SIGNED 'MAN RAY', DATED '49' AND TITLED 'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING' (ON THE STRETCHER); OIL ON CANVAS.  
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Man Ray

|
Paris

Man Ray
1890 - 1976
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 1949
SIGNED 'MAN RAY' AND DATED '49' (LOWER RIGHT), SIGNED 'MAN RAY', DATED '49' AND TITLED 'MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING' (ON THE STRETCHER); OIL ON CANVAS.  
Signed Man Ray and dated 49 (lower right); signed Man Ray, dated 49 and titled Much ado about nothing (on the stretcher)
Oil on canvas
48.3 by 63.8 cm, 19 by 25 1/8 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

This work will be included in the Catalogue of the Paintings of Man Ray currently being prepared by Andrew Strauss and Timothy Baum.

Exhibited

Francfort & Bâle, 1979-80, no. 42
Paris, 1989 (ii), n.n.
Santa Monica, 1996-97, p. 102
Madrid, Paris & Berlin, 2007-10, p. 211
Tokyo, 2010, no. 252

Literature

Washington, D.C., 2015, p. 77 (publication à paraître)

Catalogue Note

In 1940s Hollywood, Man Ray embarked on an ambitious new series of Surrealist paintings that he called Shakespearean Equations. Man Ray based these paintings upon his celebrated series of photographs of three-dimensional mathematical models taken in Paris in 1934-35 (see lot 113): “These were of objects in wood, metal, plaster and wire made to illustrate algebraic equations, which lay in dusty cases at the Poincaré Institute. The formulas accompanying them meant nothing to me, but the forms themselves were as varied and authentic as any in nature. The fact that they were man-made was of added importance to me”.

Titling each painting after a play by Shakespeare, Man Ray created dynamic and intriguing Surrealist compositions, incorporating faithful renderings of the models, presented as symbols or characters juxtaposed to re-enact a scene from a Shakespeare play: “I did not copy [the mathematical models] literally but composed a picture in each case, varying the proportions, adding color, ignoring the mathematical intent and introducing an irrelevant form sometimes, as a butterfly or the leg of a table. When about fifteen were completed, I gave the series the general title: Shakespearean Equations, and for individual identification the title of one of Shakespeare’s plays, quite arbitrarily or the first that occurred to me. … Some saw a symbolical relation between the subject and the title.” (Self Portrait, 1988, pp. 291-92)

In the present composition, Man Ray combines a mathematical wire model in the collection of the Institut Henri Poincaré, Paris, with an elliptical object resembling a vegetable or fruit, the fortuitous meeting of two unlikely objects, set in a perspectival backdrop. Such paintings, forming part of the Shakespearean Equations series from 1948 with three subsequent oils in the ensuing years, challenged Man Ray's audience as they attempted in vain to find direct associations between the painting and the play's plot, but to no avail. This pleased Man Ray, who remarked “...it's just as well!”

Man Ray

|
Paris