Saturday, November 16, 2013

Man Ray: Pipe Smoking Dadaist and Surrealist

Born in Philadelphia in 1890 as Emmanuel Radnitsky, Man Ray moved to Paris in 1921.


Man Ray, American, 1921. 
Gelatin silver print
 5 3/16 x 3 1/4 in. 
97.XM.54.1

He settled in the Montparnasse district in favor at the time among many Parisian artists and opened a photography studio to support himself. Man Ray met and fell in love with Kiki de Montparnasse, an artists' model and celebrated character in Paris bohemian circles. She became the subject of some of his most famous photographs, which he called his rayographs.


“Le Violon d’Ingres,” 1924


Black and White, 1927


Les Larmes 1932


Man Ray was a big chess fan, once observing that “while not all artists are chess players, all chess players are artists”. Man Ray enjoyed playing the game so much that he chose to design new, modern forms for chess pieces.



Often he would light up his pipe before sitting down to play with his close friend and fellow Dadaist, Marcel Duchamp,


Marcel Duchamp et Man Ray jouant aux échecs sur les toits du Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris (playing chess on the roof of the Théâtre des Champs Elysées, Paris) dans Entr’acte, 1924, film de René Clair et Francis Picabia.

a master chess player in his own right... 




 Pipe smoker,


Carte postale d'un photomontage par jeu de glaces offrant cinq représentations de Duchamp fumant la pipe autour d'une table : de face, de profil gauche et droit, de dos.
Imprimé au verso : « Post card. Broadway Photo shop. 1591, Broadway. N.Y. ». Inscription à l'encre bleue : MARCEL DUCHAMP. NEW YORK 17” (17 x 130 mm).



John D. Schiff (American, born Germany, 1907-1976), Marcel Duchamp (With Pipe), 1957

who later would carve a pipe for his friend Enrico Donati.


Marcel Duchamp, Pipe for Donati, 1946. Collection Enrico Donati, New York © 2000 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N.Y./ADAGP, Paris


Great artists of the day such as James Joyce, 




Gertrude Stein,





Pablo Picasso,



Jean Cocteau,





and fashion luminary  Coco Chanel,






would pose for Man Ray.


All along the smoking pipe remained a key source of inspiration for Man Ray.


[No title (Drinking glass, light bulb, pipe and circular metal object)] 1922
gelatin silver photograph photogram (called rayograph by the artist)
Impression: 19/40
22.2 h x 17.5 w cm
national gallery of australia
 
Sans Titre, Man Ray, 1928


 
Pipe, Man Ray, 1933


Beyond the photographic medium, Man Ray, like Marcel Duchamp and other dadaists, explored a variety of media. A powerful piece he crafted in 1927 is that of a clay pipe from which a glass bubble emerges, the surface of which, like a photographic lens, provides a distorted and mind expanding reflection of reality. The pipe is inscribed Ce qui manque à nous tous ("What all of us lack").



1927, editioned replica 1973, by Galleria Il Fauno, Turin

 
Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray’s dealer, reveals that "the title was inspired by a quotation from Engels, one of the founding philosophers of communism, ‘Ce qui manque à tous ces messieurs c’est la dialectique’ (’What these gentlemen lack is dialectic’), reproduced in capitals on the cover of the surrealist group’s magazine, La Révolution surréaliste (Paris, no.8, 1 December 1926). Man ,Ray told Schwarz ‘Actually, I had in mind “imagination”, not dialectics, what we all lack is imagination’ (Schwarz, p.209)."

The same pipe(s) would adorn Man Ray's contribution to the 1938 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme, held at the Beaux-arts Gallery, Paris, 





with more than 60 artists from different countries, and around 300 paintings, objects, collages, photographs and installations. 




The Surrealists wanted to create an exhibition which in itself would be a creative act and called on Marcel Duchamp, Wolfgang Paalen, Man Ray and others to do so. At the exhibition's entrance Salvador Dalí placed his Rainy Taxi (an old taxi rigged to produce a steady drizzle of water down the inside of the windows, and a shark-headed creature in the driver's seat and a blond mannequin crawling with live snails in the back) greeted the patrons who were in full evening dress. 


Salvadore Dali carrying a mannequin during the set up of the exhibition. Man ray's mannequin is in the background to the right, 1938, Paris.
 A close-up of man Ray's mannequin reveals two bubble pipes...


Man Ray's contribution to the 1938 Exhibition
 
To our knowledge surviving dadaist or surrealist pieces that feature actual pipes are very few and far between.

Here are a couple of such inspired pieces...



Courtesy Private Collection




Courtesy Private Collection