Man Ray - Photographs Evening Sale New York Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    From the artist
    Allan Frumkin Gallery/Photographs Inc. (Carol Ehlers), Chicago
    Thomas Walther Collection
    Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, Nevada

  • Exhibited

    Man Ray: Vintage Photographs, Solarizations and Rayographs, Allan Frumkin Gallery/Photographs Inc., Chicago, 14 December 1976 - 12 January 1977
    Man Ray: Vintage Photographs, Solarizations and Rayographs, Kimmel/Cohn Photography Arts, New York, 19 April - 21 May 1977

  • Literature

    Allan Frumkin Gallery/Photographs Inc., Man Ray: Vintage Photographs, Solarizations and Rayographs, inside front cover and pl. 59
    Kimmel/Cohn, Man Ray:Vintage Photographs, Solarizations and Rayographs, back cover and pl. 59
    Éditions MANA, Collection Marcel Natkin: Le Nu En Photographie, pl. XXIV for a variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    This enchanting vision of the beauty that lies betwixt dream and reality was created by Man Ray in Paris in 1935. In this Surrealist masterpiece, Man Ray- one of the most important and innovative photographers in the history of the medium- lays before us a modernist Sleeping Beauty - an embodiment of the subconscious laid bare.

    When Man Ray created this sensational image, the high-jinx of Dada was over, replaced in Paris by the Freudian dream delirium of Surrealism, a movement which sought to push beyond the constraints of rationality and access the possibilities of the subconscious. In his Le Manifeste du Surréalisme, the founder of Surrealism, André Breton, states that " was only fitting that Freud should appear with his critique on the dream…..I believe in the future resolution of these two states -- outwardly so contradictory -- which are dream and reality, into a sort of absolute reality, a surreality." Even before Breton had written the first Surrealist Manifesto (1924), Man Ray was creating rayographs (1921-22) that transformed ordinary objects into poetic images that transcended representation. Recognizing his early and innate kinship to the style and celebrating his ability to commingle realities, Breton declared Man Ray a 'pre-Surrealist'.

    The mythical female form in the present lot is horizontally incased in a light-filled netherworld. Her hair is supernaturally aglow as is the negative space that surrounds her shrouded and darkly outlined form. Man Ray fashioned the draped nude into a Surrealist masterpiece through the phenomena of solarization. Solarization, the act of exposing the developing negative or print to light for a brief moment and thus creating a partial (or total) reversal of tones, was accidentally discovered by Man Ray via his then assistant Lee Miller. He used this technique to its fullest potential and images of solarized females are some of his most sought after works of art because of their timeless beauty. As with all great Man Ray’s, the reclining female in this photograph goes beyond what we know in conscious reality into the dreamscape of our subconscious.

    This rare masterpiece, created during the height of Surrealism was for over 25 years a key image in The Thomas Walther Collection. Walther purchased it in the late 1970s at the beginning of his famous odyssey into photographs that would become one of the premiere collections of photography from between the first and second World Wars. In 2001 The Thomas Walther Collection was sold and partially gifted to the Museum of Modern Art where it is currently on display in Object: Photo/ Modern Photographs / The Thomas Walther Collection 1909 – 1949. As noted in the Collection Catalogue, “The Majority but not the entirety of Walther’s collection… were chosen to complement those in the Museum collection.” Because of MoMA’s significant holdings in Man Ray’s prints via the earlier addition of the James Thrall Soby Collection (publisher of the 1934 classic Man Ray Photographs 1920-1934), the curators at MoMA chose to purchase only one Man Ray from The Thomas Walther Collection, thus allowing this exceptional print to enter private hands.


Reclining Nude with Satin Sheet

Gelatin silver print.
5 3/4 x 14 5/8 in. (14.6 x 37.1 cm)
Initialed in ink, dated in pencil and '8 rue du Val-de-Grace Paris' credit stamp on the verso.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $329,000

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

Shlomi Rabi
Head of Sale, New York

General Enquiries:
+1 212 940 1245

Photographs Evening Sale

New York 1 April 2015 6pm