PARIS - A ground-breaking photographer, innovative portraitist, accomplished painter and maker of objects and experimental films, Man Ray’s work is characterised by his inventiveness and a provocative sense of humour. This unique collection of works comes directly from the artist’s estate and is the most comprehensive offering of his work to come to the market since the legendary Man Ray sale held by Sotheby’s in 1995. These are rarely seen works direct from the artist’s studio reflecting the full range and evolution of his career.
(left) Man Ray’s portrait of Catherine Deneuve, 1968. Estimate €7,000–10,000. (right) Pendants Pending, Gold. Estimate €15,000–20,000.
This portrait was one of Man Ray’s last commissioned portraits and shows the young Catherine Deneuve in the artist’s studio surrounded by his objects on the rue Férou. In an interview with The Telegraph last year, she described the session. “It was very artisanal, handmade ... very fast. I was quite surprised by the way he worked.... I don’t like being photographed very much, but I wanted to meet him.” She remembered him as “nice, welcoming, but he didn’t talk so much. His approach was soft, gentle.” Here, she models a pair of the artist’s iconic earrings.
Actress Leslie Caron began her career as a ballet dancer and was discovered at the Ballet des Champs-Elysées in Paris by Gene Kelly, who then cast her to appear alongside him in An American in Paris. She went on to appear in 45 films, including Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958). Speaking exclusively to Sotheby’s magazine recently, the actress describes her experience of sitting for Man Ray. This portrait was taken just after she had finished filming An American in Paris in Hollywood. Before the sitting she was shown Man Ray’s iconic photograph Le Violon d’Ingres and immediately realised he was someone “extremely important.” She recalls how young and shy she felt being in the presence of an artist with such authority. “He knew immediately what he wanted out of you.” After the short session she was surprised by the results of the finished photograph. “I remember thinking, oh my god, I’ve been revealed!” She had left her country, her friends and her ballet company behind in Paris to star in the film and once it had finished she felt despondent. “It was like he had guessed my inner feelings,” she says. “I was thinking ‘Now what?’ Hollywood is not really a place of entertainment, especially in those days... I missed Paris desperately.”