Details & Cataloguing

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi


Man Ray
1890 - 1976
signed, dated 1936 and situated Avignon L'Isle-sur-Sorgue
India ink on paper
28 x 38,5 cm; 11 x 15 1/8 in.
Executed in 1936.

Below the drawing, the handwritten poem signed by Paul Eluard, Le Pont brisé, dedicated Pour René Char, Paul Eluard. 
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This drawing is recorded in the archives of the Man Ray Expertise Committee and will be included in the Catalogue of the Paintings and selected Works on paper of Man Ray being prepared by Andrew Strauss and Timothy Baum of the Man Ray Expertise Committee.


Jean Hugues
Private collection, France
Natalie Seroussi, Paris


Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paul Eluard et ses amis peintres, 1982
Avignon, Collection Lambert, "I Love Avignon", 2017-2018


Ed. Eugen Jolas & Eliot Paul, Transition, 1937, no. 26, p. 13

Catalogue Note

“The pane with thoughtful streaks
Ends in a cutoff street
Its pure water quarry
The head with thoughtful laughs
Emits the slight tune hummed in the street
The shore with thoughtful lips
Sweetly kisses its reflection
The shore with thoughtful lips

The town comes and goes sleeping and waking
The lame hours dance the capuccine
A warbling sun surrounds the Indian eye
Where the boats go by going nowhere
Madmen in a whiff of thought
Accompany them
Eager forehead and quite river.”

for René Char
Paul Eluard"
(Translation by Mary Ann Caws)

Man Ray visited and admired the infamous Pont d’Avignon on several occasions and was inspired by its history and fabled mysteries of the bridge. The subject of a French song, popular since the 16th century, Man Ray draws a faithful rendering of the bridge in a state of ruin. As an homage to René Char who lived at  L’Isle-sur-Sorgue, and to whom Paul Eluard and Man Ray payed a visit in July 1936, Man Ray combined, in the present work, a representation of the Pont d’Avignon with buildings taken from l’Isle-sur-Sorgue and that one can recognize in the right part of the composition. Man Ray adds sensuality by placing a nude lying on top of the bridge, her body draped with one leg bent and the other suggesting that one could traverse the bridge by way of her out-stretched leg. With closed eyes, in a state of dream, a reflection of her arm and her head with long hair can be seen in the sky, inspiring the viewer’s imagination. Accompanied by Paul Eluard’s sensual poem dedicated to the Surrealist poet René Char, thereby rendering this collaborative work as a fine example of Surrealist drawing and poetry.

 A variant drawing of 1937 features as the frontispiece for the publication Les Mains Libres, 1937, containing over 60 drawings by Man Ray and poems by Paul Eluard.

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi