By descent to Bean’s heir
Sotheby’s New York, 6 October 1999, Sale 7348, Lot 287
Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
Private collection, San Francisco
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2008
Emmanuelle de l'Ecotais, Man Ray, Rayographies (Paris, 2002), no. 132 (a copy print of this image)
Arturo Schwartz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination (New York, 1977), p. 251, fig. 406
Man Ray scholar Steven Manford notes that this early Rayograph was reproduced in the May-June 1925 issue of Les Feuilles Libres, along with three other Rayographs and six of Man Ray’s cliché-verre images. This all-Man Ray issue included an essay by Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, who, four years later, in 1929, would publish the first book on the artist and his work. Man Ray’s association with Les Feuilles Libres had been established in 1922, when the magazine featured the first publication of a Rayograph.
This Rayograph comes originally from the collection of distinguished curator and author, Jacob Bean (1923-1992). Bean was Curator of Drawings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1960 through the early 1990s, where he concentrated on works by Italian and French masters of the 17th and 18th centuries, and co-authored several definitive books. A man of diverse experience, he had worked previously as a fact checker for The New Yorker magazine, as a guest curator at the Louvre, and, in the 1940s, in the pioneering gallery of Julien Levy. It is possible Bean acquired this Rayograph at that time. In his memoirs, Julien Levy recounted:
‘Most of my secretaries, each in turn, became involved in the life of the gallery. They were underpaid, but for the most part devoted and loyal. Having intimate relations with the customary heartbreaking state of my accounts, each did his or her best to interest some friends of their own in buying . . . Many of those who worked for me went on to bigger things . . . Jacob Beane [sic] later became curator of Prints and Drawings at the Metropolitan Museum' (Memoir of an Art Gallery, p. 86).
Another Rayograph from Bean’s collection was sold in these rooms in October 1993 (Sale 6468, Lot 361).
A Rayograph of the same dimensions as the one offered here, utilizing three of the same elements—the chain, the handkerchief, and the unidentified jewel-like object—is owned by the Yale University Art Gallery (Acc. No. 1941.660). Yale’s Rayograph is signed and dated 1924 by Man Ray and was given to the University in 1937 by Katherine Dreier. Dreier was a founding member in 1920, with Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, of the Societé Anonyme, a group devoted to promoting new art. The Societé Anonyme was responsible for giving many Americans their introduction to Dada, Surrealism, and other cutting-edge work of the time.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the Rayographs being prepared by Steven Manford.
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