Lot 2
  • 2

MAN RAY | Le Pont brisé (Pont d'Avignon)

100,000 - 150,000 EUR
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  • Man Ray
  • Le Pont brisé (Pont d'Avignon)
  • 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.


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


Executed on buff-colored wove paper, not laid down. The sheet is affixed to the mount at intermitent points along the perimeter of the verso and is floating in the overmount. The upper and lower edges are deckled and there are artist's pinholes in all four corners. The sheet is lightly time-stained and there are a few small spots of foxing in places, notably along the upper edge above the figure in the sky. There appears to be some old restoration to each of the four corners and along the centre of the lower edge. There are two faint flattened creases running vertically from the upper edge. This work is in overall good stable condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

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.

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.