Lot 42
  • 42

Man Ray

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
52,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Man Ray
  • Ce qui manque à nous tous
  • signed MR, titled and numbered H.C.
  • painted clay pipe and glass


Galleria Il Fauno (Luciano Anselmino), Turin

Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1973


Man Ray, Oggetti d'affezione, Turin, 1970, another version illustrated pl. 32

Janus, Man Ray, Milan, 1973, no. 40, another version illustrated

Roland Penrose, Man Ray, London, 1975, no. 125, another version 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, an example from the 1963 edition illustrated p. 42

Catalogue Note

The present work is a variant of an iconic object Man Ray originally conceived in 1927, now believed to be lost. Later examples of this iconic Surrealist object were made in 1935 and 1936, the former included at the seminal Surrealist exhibition of objects organised by André Breton and held at the Galerie Charles Ratton in Paris in 1936. Two years later, Man Ray incorporated a version of this work as a prop in the wig of the life-size mannequin that he was asked to contribute to the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme. Later editions were executed in 1963 (6 examples) and 1972 (9 examples and 3 artist’s proofs).


Composed from an item found in everyday life, Ce qui manque à nous tous is a clay pipe, which the artist rectified by attaching a blown-glass shape in the form of a bubble. The unlikely combination of such objects, possibly a fortuitous encounter, displays much of the playful humour present in Surrealist objects, particularly those by Man Ray. It exemplifies the Surrealist approach 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. In one of his short experimental films, Autoportrait – Ce qui manque à nous tous of circa 1930, Man Ray plays with this image, blowing smoke through the pipe into the glass bubble. The title (‘What we all lack’) derives from a quotation by Engels: ‘What these gentlemen lack is dialectic’, which appeared on the cover of La Révolution surréaliste in December 1926. Man Ray subverts Engels’ words, as he later commented: ‘Actually I had in mind “imagination”, not dialectics, what we all lack is imagination’ (A. Schwarz, op. cit., p. 209).


Man Ray’s experimentation with object-making as early as the late 1910s in New York was crucial to the development and acceptance of the Surrealist object as a work of art. 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. Man Ray’s objects, later classified by him as ‘Objects of My Affection’, are among the most revered works of Surrealism.