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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF SERGIO TOMASINELLI

Man Ray
ESSAIS, OBJECTIVES, ETC: ALBUM OF CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHS
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 56,250 EUR
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF SERGIO TOMASINELLI

Man Ray
ESSAIS, OBJECTIVES, ETC: ALBUM OF CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHS
Estimate
50,00070,000
LOT SOLD. 56,250 EUR
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modernités : de Rodin à Soulages

|
Paris

Man Ray
1890 - 1976
ESSAIS, OBJECTIVES, ETC: ALBUM OF CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHS
inscribed essais objectives etc. and dated 1922- on the cover page ; inscribed Essais – objectifs – appareils, dated 1921 and stamped MAN RAY 31 bis Rue Campagne Première PARIS on the first page ; ensuing pages with numerous annotations by the artist
63 gelatin silver print contact photographs, mounted in an album with blue wrappers
approximate sizes of photographs: from 5,7 x 8,3 cm; 2 1/4  x 3 1/2  in. to 11,2 x 8,5 cm; 4 5/8  x 3 3/8  in.
sheet of paper (each): 29.2 x 22 cm; 11 1/2  x 8 3/4  in.
Executed from 1922 to the late 1920s 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Luciano Anselmino, Galleria Il Fauno, Turin (acquired directly from the artist)
Court-ordered sale, Milan, 1980
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner in 1980

Catalogue Note

Man Ray's decisive move from New York to Paris in July 1921 was a major turning point in his life and career. During the following decade, he finally made his name as artist, albeit as the photographer he became, rather than the painter he initially trained to be. This unique and rare album records Man Ray's first decade in 1920s France, begun in 1922, shortly after his arrival in Paris, and comprises 63 gelatin sliver contact prints, many never made into enlargement prints. This fascinating ensemble of photographs provides a unique insight into Man Ray's development as a photographer during the great, formative decade of the 1920s, during which he consolidated the achievements of his early career in New York to become one of the most sought-after photographers working in Paris, and ultimately taking his place as a prominent member of the Surrealist group as well as becoming one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century.

The album reveals Man Ray's world in the 1920s and the broad nature of his photographic work. From city views – both famous landmarks and characteristic Parisian streets – to landscapes taken during his travels around France, interior shots, including his own studio on the rue Campagne Première (he assiduously recorded his working environment throughout his career), and still lifes, genre scenes, and portraits of himself and his friends, including Kiki de Montparnasse and Picabia (and the latter's superb Bugatti sports car). Experimental images are also included, such as an attempt to capture the meniscus on the surface of water, and the image produced by a reflective convex surface (a technique Man Ray returned to at several points in his career), as well as composed shots such as the audacious image known as Black and White, the 'meeting' of an African effigy and a European sculpture of nude dancer that we learn was taken "chez Picabia" (published in Picabia's journal 391 in July 1924).

Man Ray found the artistic freedom of the camera exhilarating. He stated in 1930 that "I only know one thing: the need to express myself one way or another. Photography provides me with the means, means that are much simpler and faster than painting" (quoted in Man Ray: Writings on Art, op. cit., p. 100). The present album is testimony of his efforts to master the technical aspects of the medium. Man Ray's handwritten annotations record the location of a particular shot or series of shots, and the lens with its fixed focal length (f-stop) used for a particular shot: a Cooke 3.5 for a Parisian café scene and self-portrait, a Berthiot f4 that he used on a trip to Mediterranean coast, and a Zeiss 2.7 and one Kodak "Brownie" for river scenes. Each print is a contact photograph, printed through direct contact between the negative and the paper, without the use of an enlarger.

Man Ray felt immediately at home in Paris and the album contains a rich selection of views of the city and its landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Montmartre and the popular restaurant Le Boeuf sur le Toit, often in lighting conditions that usually proved challenging for photographers. Other views of the French countryside and the South of France also feature, a testament to Man Ray's travels and his admiration of France which was to remain his home for most of the rest of his life. In a 1926 statement akin to a manifesto, Man Ray wrote that "a photographer is not restricted only to the role of copyist. He is a marvelous explorer of those aspects that our retinas will never record ... I have tried to capture those visions that dusk, or too-bright light, or their own fleetingness, or the slowness of our ocular apparatus, hides from our senses. I have always been surprised, often charmed, sometimes literally 'delighted.'" (quoted in Man Ray: Writings on Art, op. cit., p. 88).

 

Modernités : de Rodin à Soulages

|
Paris