Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

Portrait of Man Ray

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Portrait of Man Ray
signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 1974' (on the overlap)
synthetic polymer, acrylic and silkscreen inks on canvas
78½ x 95¾ in. (199.4 x 243.2 cm.)
Painted in 1974.
Alvin M. Greenstein, New York
Joel Mallin, New York
His sale; Sotheby's, New York, 14 May 1985, lot 108
Daniel Varenne, Geneva
Galerie Denise René Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf
Acquired from the above by the present owner on 15 December 1986
Ridgefield, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Homo Sapiens: The Many Images, May-September 1982, p. 50 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

It was in 1974, only a couple of years before Man Ray's death, that Warhol created Man Ray, working from photographs that he had taken on November 30, 1973. In retrospect, it seems only natural that Warhol would add Man Ray to his pantheon of portrait subjects. He had been introduced to Man Ray by the Italian art dealer Luciano Anselmino to the great Surrealist veteran of objects and appropriations, who had blurred so many of the boundaries of what could and could not be classified as art. Warhol spent a day in Man Ray's home in Paris, alongside Anselmino, his assistant Dino, Fred Hughes, and Man Ray and his wife Juliet. Looking back a few years later on the session, Warhol remarked, "That was really fun" (A. Warhol, quoted in "Factory Diary: Letter to Man Ray," K. Goldsmith, ed., I'll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews: 1962-1987, New York, 2004, p. 232). Warhol once recorded a "Letter to Man Ray" in which he recalled many of the permutations of images that each artist took that day. Some of the others present also joined in, snapping away. However, it appears that it was only towards the end of the session that Warhol took the iconic shot, with cap and cigar, that would provide the image for Man Ray:

I took a SX-70 and then I put in a whole roll and I got ten... ten pictures of that and then he put a cigar in his mouth ... I think they were friends because Luciano brought him the best cigars in town. And actually the cigar was bigger than he was because he'd... he'd gotten very... very bent over. And he looked like he was always far out but uh... I think it was just because he was bent over... I had him smoke the cigar (A. Warhol, quoted in Ibid, p. 232).

Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, had always intended to be an artist rather than a photographer, though it is for the latter that he remains best known. Perversely, the author of an article entitled "Photography is Not Art" was one of the most important figures in breaking down the barriers between the disciplines, be it in the Rayographs he created through a system of his own invention or the photographs of his great friend Marcel Duchamp's work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. It was only logical, then, that Man Ray should have photographed Warhol almost as much as Warhol photographed Man Ray during their time together.

Warhol himself appears to have been inspired and influenced by Man Ray in various ways. For instance, Warhol owned one of Man Ray's paintings, which had pride of place in his home in New York; he was later photographed by Christopher Makos dressed as a woman, deliberately recalling Man Ray's portrait of Rrose Sélavy, the female alter ego of Marcel Duchamp. Warhol's Shadow series also echoed Man Ray's own works as well. And in terms of working methods, there were clear links between the two. When Man Ray's autobiography, Self Portrait, was published in 1963, it apparently had an influence on Warhol's approach to repetition and the mechanisation of the artistic process.

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