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The Modernist Mystique – Man Ray

Featured Image: Man Ray. Self Portrait in Campagne Première studio with reflector. Credit: Sotheby’s France/ArtDigital Studio


On November 15, Sotheby’s Paris will auction 400 works by Man Ray – one of the most influential 20th century photographers and artists. This will be the largest sale of his art since 1995.

The works are the property of the Man Ray Trust and include photographs, paintings, objects, drawings, film and two chess sets.The Man Ray Trust was formed by Juliet Man Ray, his widow. Upon her death, a significant number of his works were donated to the French Government in lieu of taxes.

Man Ray Much Ado about Nothing (The Squash) Sotheby’s France/ArtDigital Studio

Man Ray born in Philadelphia in 1890, first garnered attention for his work in New York in 1916. He abandoned painting and started making objects as well as inventing new photographic techniques. He worked closely with Dadaist Marcel Duchamp, who would remain his friend for over 50 years.

In 1921, he arrived in Paris and quickly joined the Saturday night gatherings at the home of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.He took portraits of many of those who regularly discussed art and life at 27 rue de Fleurus including Picasso, Braque, Gris, Cocteau, Picabia, Derain, Giacometti, Moro and Henry Miller. He also famously photographed Stein in front of Picasso’s 1913 portrait of the writer.

Man Ray Catherine Deneuve, 1968 Sotheby's France /ArtDigital Studio
Man Ray Catherine Deneuve, 1968 Sotheby’s France /ArtDigital Studio

There are over 250 vintage photographs in the collection for sale, including many of his fashion photographs and images that were created with solarisation and gauze effects. There are many self-portraits including his 1934 Self Portrait in Campagne Première studio with reflector. There are portraits of his many muses including Kiki de Montparnasse, Lee Miller, his wife Juliet and actors such as Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner and Catherine Deneuve.

The works reflect the many directions of Man Ray: not only innovative photographer and portraitist, also an acclaimed painter, film maker and assembler of objects. Some of the paintings to be auctioned include his portrait of Juliet, his 1948 Purple Mask and a gold brooch of the lips of Lee Miller inspired by another work from the auction, his 1932 painting A l’heure de l’Observatoire – Les Amoreux.

Man Ray A l’heure de l’Observatoire – Les Amoreux Sotheby's France/ArtDigital Studio
Man Ray A l’heure de l’Observatoire – Les Amoreux Sotheby’s France/ArtDigital Studio


Simone Klein, Head of Sotheby’s European Photographs Department observes, “The photographs from the Man Ray collection are like a time-capsule, reflecting the era and the creativity of one of the most prolific artists of the twentieth century. This incredibly varied ensemble groups together vintage prints of some of Man Ray’s most emblematic images as well as some of his least known works, ranging from Surrealist compositions to portraits of contemporary personalities, also including hitherto unseen landscapes of France and the United States. This sale will be a unique opportunity to acquire photographs with attractive estimates and the most perfect provenance: coming from the artist himself”.

Man Ray Collection – Sotheby’s Paris, November 15, 2014.




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Liz Bond

Liz Bond comes from a PR background and loves fine wine, great food and rewarding travel - all the magnificent things in life. She prides herself in an innate ability to meet famous celebrities at baggage carousels.

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