MAN RAY (1890-1976)
MAN RAY (1890-1976)
MAN RAY (1890-1976)
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MAN RAY (1890-1976)

Decollage III

MAN RAY (1890-1976)
Decollage III
signed, dated, titled and inscribed '"Decollage" Man Ray-1917 Coll. Arensberg N.Y. (destroyed) (Third 1947) This for Rosalind. parmis les cadeaux que nous avons echangés. Affectueusement Man Ray Paris. April 30, 1957' (on the reverse)
collage with bobby pins, hair, thread, fabric and wax paper in the artist's painted frame
collage: 16 1⁄8 x 12 1⁄4 in. (40.8 x 30.8 cm.)
frame: 21 1⁄4 x 17 1⁄4 x 1 1⁄4 in. (53.9 x 43.8 x 3.1 cm.)
Conceived in 1917 and recreated in 1947
Gift from the artist by the late owners, April 1957.
A. Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, pp. 38, 135-136 and 159, no. 235 (original version illustrated).
Janus, Man Ray, Milan, 1973 (illustrated in color, fig. 14).
F.M. Naumann, “Walter Conrad Arensberg: Poet, Patron and Participant in the New York Avant-Garde, 1915-1920,” The Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, vol. 76, no. 328, spring 1980 (Jacobs version illustrated, fig. 10).
Janus, Man Ray: Tutti gli scritti, Milan, 1981 (illustrated in color).
J.-H. Martin, intro., Man Ray: Objets de mon affection, Paris, 1983, p. 27, no. 8 (original version illustrated).
Janus, Man Ray: Oeuvres 1909-1972, Paris, 1990 (illustrated in color, fig. 13).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Man Ray, October-December 1966, p. 107, no. 131 (original version illustrated).
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen; Paris, Musée national d'art moderne and Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Man Ray, September 1971-April 1972, p. 128, no. 61 (original version illustrated, p. 55).
The New York Cultural Center, Man Ray: Inventor/Painter/Poet, December 1974-March 1975, no. 181 (illustrated).
London, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Man Ray, April-June 1975, p. 10, no. 167.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Dada and New York, May-July 1979, no. 16.
New York, Zabriskie Gallery, Man Ray: The New York Years, 1913-1921, November 1988-January 1989, p. 13.
New York, Kent Gallery, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, January-March 1992, no. 9.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Making Mischief: Dada Invades New York, November 1996-February 1997, p. 88 (illustrated).
Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sweet Dreams and Nightmares: Dada and Surrealism from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, March-May 2000, no. 23 (illustrated in color).
New York, Zabriskie Gallery, Kiki of Montparnasse, April-May 2002.
Fukui Fine Arts Museum; Okazakai City Museum; Saitama Modern Art Museum; Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Man Ray: I Am an Enigma, June 2004-March 2005.
New York, Pace/MacGill Gallery, The Long Arm of Coincidence: Selections from the Rosalind and Melvin Jacobs Collection, April-May 2009 (illustrated in color).
Further details
Andrew Strauss and Timothy Baum of the Man Ray Expertise Committee have confirmed the authenticity of this work and that it will be included in the catalogue raisonné of the Objects and Sculptures of Man Ray, currently in preparation.

Lot Essay

First conceived in 1917, Decollage III is the 1947 recreation of an earlier important collage, which was destroyed. Man Ray also created a second variant in 1944, the whereabouts of which is unknown, and a fourth version in 1965, now in the collection of the Miyazaki Prefectural Art Museum. In this present version, Man Ray constructed an abstracted female portrait with varying colored paper elements: there is “an opaque greenish rectangular base (for the shoulders) on a black paper background; partially overlapping the green base he pasted a translucent, vertical pink paper rectangle (the neck); and again partially overlapping, a beautiful egg-shape of sky-blue translucent paper (the head); to the left of the head were placed three hairpins, to the right, just touching it, a lock of blonde hair” (A. Schwarz, op. cit., pp. 134 and 136).

On the subject of the work’s ironic Dada title, Francis M. Naumann explains that “the original version of this assemblage was entitled Souvenir. It was subsequently titled collage in order to play on the multiple meanings of the French verb coller, which can mean either to decapitate, or, when taken literally, to unglue, as in the act of pulling something apart. Just as the removal of the head takes life from the body, Man Ray might have reasoned, the act of taking apart a collage eliminates its existence. (Precisely the fate which befell the original version of this work, which was torn apart in the 1940s)” (quoted in exh. cat., op. cit., 1988, p. 13).

Souvenir (the earlier version) was included in the notable modern collection of Louise and Walter Arensberg until it was destroyed in the 1940s. The Arensberg apartment on the Upper West Side was the center of New York Dada; the home was frequented by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Francis Picabia as well as Katherine Dreier among others. As Man Ray recalled, “Duchamp brought [Arensberg] around to my place one day; he bought one of my recent compositions of papers arranged in the form of a portrait but without any features” (quoted in Self Portrait, Boston, 1988, p. 62). The Jacobs version was gifted to Roz in April 1957 by the artist and personally inscribed to her like so many others in their collection, which represented decades-long friendships with the artists.

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