Acquired from the above by present owner
Roland Penrose, Man Ray, London, 1975, no. 125, another example illustrated p. 190
Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, no. 341, the 1936 version illustrated p. 219
Jean-Hubert Martin, Rosalind Krauss & Brigitte Hermann, Man Ray, Objets de mon affection, Paris, 1983, no. 39, another example from the 1963 edition illustrated p. 42
Starting with an item found in everyday life, Man Ray rectified a painted clay pipe by attaching a blown-glass shape in the form of a bubble. This unlikely combination, possibly a fortuitous encounter, displays much of the playful humour present in Surrealist objects, particularly those by Man Ray. Here he alludes to a pipe billowing smoke, exemplifying the Surrealist object which frequently comprised taking an everyday object and transforming it through a change of function. Any attempt to use the pipe for its original purpose would be futile, just as drawing air through it to smoke is impossible. The title (‘What we all lack’) derives from a quotation by Engels: ‘What these gentlemen lack is dialectic’, that appeared on the cover of La Révlution surréaliste (no. 8, 1st December 1926), which, in a typical Surrealist fashion, Man Ray subverts, transforming it into ‘what we all lack is imagination’ (Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, p. 209).
Man Ray’s experiments with object-making as early as the late 1910s in New York were crucial to the development and acceptance of the object as a work of art. While his fellow artists were also crating a wide range of objects, as a truly multimedia artist, Man Ray was adept at expressing a concept in a variety of media, from objects and painting to photography and film. Many of his early objects did not survive (they were lost, fell apart or were dismantled), yet they continue to live through his own photographs of them, in which the three-dimensional forms are immortalised by dynamic two-dimensional images. Man Ray’s objects, later classified by him as ‘Objects of My Affection’, are among the most revered in the Dada and Surrealist cannon.
The present example is rare in that it is accompanied in its own storage box. It was sent by Man Ray for inclusion in the exhibition Le Surréalisme held at the Galerie Charpentier, Paris in 1964. Interestingly, while the present example is no. 4 of the edition of 6, Man Ray dates the box to 1962, indicating that he had commenced assembly of the edition in that year, though the edition itself was not available for sale until 1963.
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