Man Ray - Photographs New York Thursday, October 4, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Pierre and Franca Belfond, Paris
    Artcurial, Paris, 26 March 2013, lot 38

  • Literature

    De L’Ecotais, Man Ray: Photography and Its Double, p. 164
    Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, p. 90
    J. Paul Getty Museum, In Focus, Man Ray: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, pl. 27
    Skira, Man Ray, p. 142
    The Bunkamara Museum of Art, Photographies de Man Ray, pl. 124
    Krauss and Livingston, L’Amour Fou: Photography and Surrealism, p. 150
    Manford, Behind the Photo, The Stamps of Man Ray, n.p., for stamp

  • Catalogue Essay

    “To the developed mind that creates an image whose strangeness and reality stirs our subconscious to its inmost depths, the awakening of desire is the first step to participation and experience.” Man Ray

    La Prière is arguably the signature image from the masterful series of nude studies Man Ray executed in the 1920s and early 1930s. In La Prière, Man Ray combines, with characteristic alchemic skill, the uniquely descriptive capabilities of photography with his distinctive vision within an image that is at once realistic and dreamlike.

    By the 1930s, nudes comprised an important portion of Man Ray’s oeuvre, and an entire passage of his first monograph, Photographs by Man Ray 1920 Paris 1934, is devoted to the female form. In La Prière, Man Ray poses his nude model provocatively and frames her carefully within the composition to create an image poised between the sublime and the sinister. As in the best of Man Ray’s photographs, conventional artistic subject matter is raised to the level of Surrealism.

    La Prière is a Surreal tour de force and has lost none of its impact since its creation in 1930. For this reason, La Prière is one of a few early works that Man Ray revisited, producing a small edition for the contemporary audience. This print comes from the collection of Pierre and Franca Belfond, who founded the publishing house Éditions Belfond in 1963. The Belfonds published two books on Man Ray: Alphabet pour Adultes (1970) and Bonsoir, Man Ray (1972). It is possible that the Belfonds received this photograph directly from the artist.


La Prière

Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1970.
11 1/2 x 8 5/8 in. (29.2 x 21.9 cm)
Signed and annotated ‘EA’ in ink on the recto; signed in pencil and ‘Man Ray, Paris’ stamp (Manford M32) on the verso.

$70,000 - 90,000 

Sold for $100,000

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New York Auction 4 October 2018