Man Ray - Photographs London Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Arturo Schwarz, Milan, 1982
    Private Collection, Italy

  • Exhibited

    L’amore è la morte, Galleria Borghese, Rome, May - June 1993, this lot
    Da-dada. Dada e dadaismi del contemporaneo. 1916-2006, Castello Visconteo, Pavia, 7 September - 17 December 2006, this lot

  • Literature

    L. Meneghelli,, L' amore è la morte, Rome: Galleria Borghese, 1993, n.p., this lot
    A. Bonito Oliva, Dadada. Dada e dadaismi del contemporaneo 1916-2006, Milano: Skira, 2006, p. 59, this lot

    P. Prodger et al., Man Ray/Lee Miller: Partners in Surrealism, Salem: Peabody Essex Museum, 2011, p. 76
    A. Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, New York: Rizzoli, 1977, pl. 82, p.90
    A. Schwarz, New York Dada: Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, Munich: Prestel, 1973, pl. 105

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I do not photograph nature, I photograph my fantasy.’
    Man Ray

    In La Prière, 1930, Man Ray presents his nude model in a provocative pose, carefully framing her fragmented body parts within the composition. The model here is Lee Miller who not only posed for Man Ray during their short-lived, tumultuous relationship, but also collaborated with him to choreograph iconic images such as La Prière. Combining the descriptive capabilities of photography with his distinctive vision, Man Ray creates an image that is at once realistic and dreamlike. As in the best of his photographs, conventional artistic subject matter is imbued with the spirit of Surrealism.

    By the 1930s, nudes comprised an important portion of Man Ray’s oeuvre, and an entire passage of Man Ray: Photographies 1920-1934 Paris, his first monograph, is devoted to the female form. La Prière has lost none of its visual impact since its creation in 1930 and is one of a select number of early works that Man Ray revisited, producing small editions as both gelatin silver prints and gelatin silver emulsion on linen. The work offered here is number six from the edition of seven that Man Ray printed on linen and is one of the few images he is known to have created in this way.

    Acquired in 1982 from Italian art historian and curator Arturo Schwarz, the present work has been in the same collection for over 35 years. Widely respected as a leading authority on Surrealism and Dadaism, Schwarz championed Man Ray and exhibited his work at his influential Milan gallery Galleria Schwarz, which he operated from 1954 to 1975.


La Prière [Prayer]

Gelatin silver emulsion on linen, printed 1971.
Image/canvas: 33 x 24 cm (13 x 9 ½ in.)
Frame: 47 x 38 cm. (19 x 15 in.)

Signed and numbered VI/VII in pencil on the recto; numbered VI/VII in ink on reverse of the stretcher bar; printed title ‘Close Up’ and date on a Galleria Schwarz label affixed to the reverse of the frame.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £100,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Department, Photographs
Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Department, Photographs

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London Auction 16 May 2019