Lot 7
  • 7

Man Ray

Estimate
15,000 - 20,000 EUR
Sold
27,500 EUR
bidding is closed

Description

  • Man Ray
  • Autoportrait, Rue Campagne Première, ca. 1933
  • Silver print, probably printed later. Signed, dated erroneously 1930? [crossed out] 1926 and annotated rue Campagne-1er in pencil by the artist on the reverse.
  • photograph
  • 24 by 17.6 cm, 9 ½ by 7 in.
Self Portrait in Campagne Première studio with reflector, circa 1934
Silver gelatin print
9 1/2h x 7w inches

Estimate: €30,000 - 50,000

Subject to further research

Exhibited

Madrid, Paris & Berlin, 2007-10, p. 101
Tokyo, 2010, no. 77
Brühl, 2013, p. 80

Literature

Washington, D.C., 2015, p. 213 (publication à paraître)

Catalogue Note

The present photograph is a self-portrait taken in the studio Man Ray occupied at 31bis rue Campagne Première in Montparnasse over the course of 14 years from 1922. During this period in this studio he established himself not only as one of the leading portraitists of the aristocracy and the avantgarde but equally as an innovative artist, first as Dadaist, then as a Surrealist, renowned for his experimental filmmaking and groundbreaking photography, most notably his technical mastery of Rayographs and solarisations.

Man Ray’s increasing success as a photographer only a year after arriving in Paris in July 1921 made it necessary for him to move from his room at the Hôtel des Ecoles, rue Delambre, to nearby premises that could serve as a fully-fledged studio. He recalled: “when I moved into my own studio on the rue Campagne-Première in Montparnasse, I arranged it to receive visitors and handle the increasing amount of work. The washroom was converted into a darkroom, the balcony was the bedroom where Kiki had to remain quietly when I receiving, or leave during appointments.” (Self Portrait, 1988, p. 121)

Lee Miller who worked as Man Ray’s assistant and collaborator for three years described the rue Campagne Première studio in a 1975 interview: “There was a cupboard at the end where he kept his film … Besides this cupboard-darkroom there was a small balcony around the edge of the studio which made it a duplex. And there, for the length for the studio, he could take portraits against two or three kinds of backgrounds: gray, white and so forth. And his bed was towards the window. Downstairs was the studio where he did other kinds of work and entertained people and made collages and montages and objects, and so on. … A few years ago I went to see César, the sculptor, and as I walked in I suddenly realized it was Man’s old studio. César had built a big balcony over it with steel cantilevers making much more room for himself.” (Mario Amaya, “My Man Ray: An Interview with Lee Miller Penrose”, Art in America, May-June 1975, p. 56)

Comparison of the present work with another self-portrait taken in the Rue Campagne Première studio illustrates Man Ray’s artistic journey during his time at this studio. In the earlier image (fig. 1), taken circa 1925, Man Ray presents himself as a confident and dapper artist before a selection of works hung around the staircase that display his achievements as both a painter and a photographer, from the airbrush and oil paintings made before he left America to his recent Rayographs. The artist’s environment as shown in the present photograph taken circa 1933 has evolved most considerably. Whitewashed walls have replaced the patterned wallpaper and the Persian carpet on the floor has been removed. With the exception of one painting visible in the earlier image, Black Widow (1915, private collection), that remains hung in the same position at the top of the stairs, most oils have been replaced by photographs, whether portraits, nudes or Surrealist compositions including the 1933 Still Life that features the plaster cast from his “life mask” (see lot 42) that sits alongside other recent experimental objects visible behind Man Ray, including his 1932 Non-Euclidean Object, all the results of the artist’s experiments in his truly multimedia laboratory.

The most dramatic development is evident in the technique used to create the present image, emblematic of Man Ray’s constant experimentation of the photographic medium, notably in the genre of self-portraits. The artist’s studio is visible to the viewer reflected (the image flipped) in a highly polished spherical surface that hangs from a stand used for studio lights. Man Ray made a small number of such photographs during the 1930s and 1940s, including one of his Vine Street studio in Hollywood (lot 159). Reminiscent of the type of image created using a fisheye lens, Man Ray presents us with an arresting depiction of the artist’s universe.

Fig. 1: Man Ray, Self Portrait, Rue Campagne Première, circa 1925 (private collection)

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