MAN RAY (1890–1976)
MAN RAY (1890–1976)
MAN RAY (1890–1976)
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MAN RAY (1890–1976)

Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924

MAN RAY (1890–1976)
Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924
gelatin silver print, printed 1950s
signed and dated (in the negative); signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'for Hans Richter, affectionately, Man Ray' by the artist in ink; annotated 'reproduction rights to/ Man Ray/ 4 rue Férou/ PARIS 6' by the artist in pencil; variously otherwise annotated and numbered in pencil and crayon (verso)
image: 5 ¾ x 4 ¼ in. (14.6 x 10.8 cm.)
sheet: 5 ¾ x 4 3/8 in. (14.6 x 11.1 cm.)
From the artist to painter and filmmaker, Hans Richter (1888–1976);
Hans Bolliger, Zurich;
Christie's New York, October 5, 1995, lot 14;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, Rizzoli, New York, 1977, p. 255, pl. 415.
Jean-Hubert Martin, Man Ray Photographs, Thames and Hudson, New York, 1982, p. 16, pl. 4.
Merry Foresta et al., Perpetual Motif: The Art of Man Ray, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., 1988, p. 317, pl. 262.
Man Ray 1890-1976, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1995, p. 46, pl. 48.
Rudolf Kicken, Man Ray: 1890–1976, Hirmer, Munich, 1996, pl. 53.
Alain Sayag and Emmanuelle De I'Ecotais (eds.), Man Ray: Photography and its Double, Gingko Press, Corte Madera, 1998, p. 137.
Katherine Ware, Man Ray In Focus, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1998, p. 40, pl. 17.
Emmanuell L'etotais,Man Ray: 1890–1976, Taschen, Cologne, 2000, p. 43.
Mason Klein, Alias Man Ray,Yale University Press, New Haven, 2009, p. 87, fig. 84.
Wendy Grossman and Edouard Sebline (eds.), Man Ray: Human Equations, Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, 2015, p. 179, fig. 166.

Brought to you by

Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924 is arguably Man Ray’s best known work and one of the most recognized and celebrated artworks of the twentieth century. This photograph epitomizes Man Ray’s dedication to artistic freedom. It was artist Alice Prin, known as ‘Kiki de Montparnasse’, Man Ray’s muse and lover who posed for his camera in the original sitting for Le Violon d'Ingres. An image was first made public in André Breton’s Dada and Surrealism focused magazine, Littérature issued in June of 1924, the same year as the work’s creation. Since this first appearance, Le Violon d'Ingres has continually been revered as a Surrealist icon.

Man Ray deftly links the image to painting through an act of homage to the work of painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. Inspired by Ingres nude studies—notably Nude from the back, 1807 and Baigneuse de Valpinçon, 1808Kiki sits in the same pose as Ingres’ models for those compositions, completed by the shawl Man Ray asked her to wrap around her head as a turban. Using a combination of techniques in various iterations—including hand-painting, the camera-less ‘Rayograph’ technique, multiple exposures, and the re-photographing of existing negatives and prints—Man Ray added the f-shaped sound-holes of a violin to Kiki’s back, likening her body to that of the instrument. In typical Man Ray fashion, the title involved a play on words in its suggestion of the French idiomatic expression 'violon d'Ingres'. This phrase is a reference to Ingres’ desire to be recognized not only as a painter, but also an accomplished violinist, his passionate hobby. Therefore, the vernacular use of the phrase indicates precisely this. Given the confluence of media both used and implied in Man Ray’s Le Violon d'Ingres, the work seems almost certainly to be concerned with Man Ray’s own determination to be seen not exclusively as a photographer, but as a master of many artistic mediums.

Man Ray used a mask to burn the f-hole shapes onto the photographic paper, in the location on Kiki’s back. He cut f-holes into a sheet of thick paper, laid this template over a sheet of photographic paper, and then exposed this to light, causing the f-holes to print onto the photographic paper. The image of Kiki was then printed onto the sheet with the f-holes, by way of the original negative and an enlarger, and the two exposures were thereby combined to create Le Violon d'Ingres. It is from a copy negative of this resulting photograph that the present lot, and all other subsequent prints of the image have been made.

Following Man Ray’s first and tremendously fruitful period in Paris which lasted from 1921 until 1940, the era which produced Le Violon d'Ingres, he was forced to move back to the United States because of the second World War. He settled in Los Angeles, where he met and married Juliet Browner. In 1951, he enthusiastically returned to Paris and set up his studio and home with Juliet at a converted garage on rue Férou. The ‘reproduction rights’ address which appears written by Man Ray on the reverse of the print offered here is the address next door, a house which we know Man Ray had communications with according to his autobiography. The couple lived and worked at their notoriously private rue Férou studio for twenty-five years, until Man Ray passed away in 1976.

The inscription on the reverse of the print also reads, ‘For Hans Richter/ affectionately/ Man Ray’. Man Ray would have first encountered the experimental filmmaker, and fellow DADA artist, Hans Richter likely around the early 1920s. During the summer of 1923, Richter’s abstract film Rhythmus 21 (1923‒1925) was screened at the Coeur à barbe soirée (Bearded Heart soirée) in Paris, alongside Man Ray’s first film, Retour à la raison. From there, the two artists’ paths would cross at several points throughout their lives and careers. Man Ray chronicles, for example, how while he and Kiki lived together in Paris, Richter and the Russian director Sergei Eisenstein once dropped in and in a short sitting, Kiki painted a portrait of the latter (Man Ray, Self Portrait: Man Ray, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1963, p. 148). Later, Man Ray also notes that just after the War and while he was still exiled in California, his ‘old friend’, Richter, wrote asking for Man Ray to contribute to a film he was preparing. For that movie, Dreams That Money Can Buy, Man Ray ended up providing a script for a scenario he titled Ruth, Roses, and Revolvers (Self Portrait: Man Ray, 1963, p. 361).

Following its ownership by Hans Richter, this print of Le Violon dIngres was part of the collection of the renowned Dada and Surrealist expert, Hans Bolliger of Zürich. Mr. Bolliger's varied career as a bibliopole, auctioneer and collector has been well documented through his long association with Kornfeld & Klipstein in Berne from 1955 to 1970. His experiences studying in Paris in the mid-1930s and then working at the Zentralbibliothek, Zürich helped fuel Mr. Bolliger’s friendships with some of the most notable figures of the European avant-garde: Hans Arp, Sonja Delauney, Max Ernst, Gottfried Honegger, Jean Tinquely and of course, Man Ray. In 1980 Mr. Bolliger completed the sale of portions of his important collection of Dadaist art to the Kunsthaus, Zürich where years before he had also been employed. This acquisition by the Kunsthaus has become the basis for their well-established collection of Dada‒a most appropriate locale as Zürich was the birthplace of Dada.

There is a vintage print of Le Violon dIngres with f-holes painted onto the photograph in the collection of The Centre Pompidou in Paris, originally in the collection of André Breton. Another mid-1950s print made from the same negative as this example is at the Worcester Art Museum, originally in the collection of Naomi Savage (Man Ray's niece) and her husband David. An edition of eight plus 3 Artist Proofs was made in 1971; an edition of three was made of this image c. 1965 with string elements applied down the center.

No print of Le Violon d'Ingres by Man Ray has come to auction in over ten years and, furthermore, no print of the image that predates these later editions has appeared at auction since this very print sold here at Christie’s in 1995.

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