Man Ray - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Originally in the collection of Albert Skira, publisher of Minotaure
    By descent to his family
    Private Collection, Geneva
    Private Collection, New York

  • Literature

    Minotaure, No. 7, June 1935, p. 22 (this print)
    Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, pl. 462
    Sayag and de l'Ecotais, Man Ray: Photography and its Double, p. 220
    Manford, Behind the Photo: The Stamps of Man Ray, n.p. (for stamp)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Man Ray’s Le Bouquet, which shows fireworks exploding in the night sky, demonstrates both Man Ray’s sophisticated Surreal visual sensibility and his technical command of the medium. Capturing fireworks in such evocative detail with the limited equipment of his day presented a technical challenge which Man Ray handled with characteristic skill and elegance. He shifts the image into Surrealism through solarization: the technique of introducing light during the development process which yielded a variety of visual effects, including the selective reversal of tones. With its expressive range of tonal values, Le Bouquet possesses the same impact as a Rayograph and, as with the best of Man Ray’s photographs, it pivots between dream and reality.

    This photograph comes originally from the collection of Albert Skira, publisher of the Surrealist journal Minotaure. Initiated in 1933, Minotaure became the chief publication for the Surrealists and included on its editorial board André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, and Paul Éluard, among others. The photograph offered here is the print used for reproduction in Minotaure, No. 7, June 1935, an issue devoted to the theme of night. Le Bouquet appears as a full-page illustration alongside two photographs of Luna moths and accompanied by excerpts from 18th-century poet Edward Young’s proto-Surreal Night Thoughts. Taken as a whole, the spread—with its photographs of nocturnal phenomena and poetically evocative text—is a brilliant and Surreal meditation on the psychology of night. Man Ray was a frequent contributor to Minotaure, as was Brassaï, and images by both appear throughout No. 7, all relating to the issue’s nocturnal theme.

    In a sly and playful essay entitled Photography is Not Art published in 1943 in Charles Henri Ford’s journal View, Man Ray set himself the task of listing ‘what I consider the ten best photographs I have produced until now.’ An image which he describes as ‘Frozen fireworks on the night of 14th of July in Paris’ appears as number 8, between Glass Tears and a photograph of one of his own paintings.


Le Bouquet (Fireworks)

Solarized gelatin silver print.
11 3/8 x 9 in. (28.9 x 22.9 cm)
The photographer’s ‘31 bis Rue Campagne-Première’ (Manford M6) stamp and reduction notations in pencil and ink in various hands on the verso.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $106,250

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 13 July 2020