Lot 57
  • 57

Man Ray

40,000 - 50,000 GBP
56,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Man Ray
  • Ce qui manque à nous tous
  • signed Man Ray, titled and numbered E.A.
  • painted clay pipe and glass
  • length: 20cm.
  • 7 7/8 in.


Estate of the artist (sold: Sotheby’s, London, Man Ray, 23rd March, 1995, lot 182)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


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

At turns both witty and thought-provoking, Ce qui manque à nous tous is an important example of Man Ray’s investigation into the concept of the ‘found object’, a key Surrealist idea. Man Ray here imbues a quotidian object – the pipe – with a sense of the curious and strange by the addition of a glass bubble emerging incongruously from the lip of the pipe. In this way the pipe, traditionally associated with masculinity, is humorously reinterpreted in a similar way to René Magritte’s exploration of the same object in his iconic Ceci n’est pas une pipe (fig. 1). This juxtaposition of objects in unexpected combinations was another major element of Surrealist practice, which encouraged the viewer to perceive everyday items in new ways by challenging their conventional and expected roles.

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 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).

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 intriguing title – translating as ‘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).