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Man Ray (1890-1976)
Man Ray (1890-1976)


Man Ray (1890-1976)
signed, dated and inscribed ‘Man Ray 1937 London’ (lower right)
pen and India ink on paper
13 3/4 x 10 in. (35.1 x 25.5 cm.)
Executed in London in 1937
Studio Marconi, Milan.
Private collection, Milan, by whom acquired from the above by 1971, and thence by descent to the present owner.
P. Eluard & Man Ray, Les Mains Libres, Paris, 1937, p. 129 (illustrated).
Exh. cat., Man Ray, l'occhio e il suo doppio: Dipinti, collages, disegni, invenzioni fotografiche, oggetti d'affezione, libri, cinema, Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 1975, p. 113 (illustrated; 'titled Disegno per Les mains libres').
A. Schwarz, Man Ray, The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, no. 96, pp. 64 & 362 (illustrated p. 91).
J.-C. Gateau, Paul Eluard et la peinture surréaliste (1910-1939), Geneva, 1982, pp. 260 & 263.
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Man Ray, September - November 1971, no. 104, p. 137 (illustrated p. 65); this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée national d’art moderne, January - February 1972; and Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, March - April 1972.
New York, The New York Cultural Center, Man Ray, Inventor, Painter, Poet, December 1974 - March 1975, no. 95d.
Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Man Ray: Carte varie e variabili, December 1983 - January 1984, no. 74, p. 127.

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Olivier Camu
Olivier Camu

Lot Essay

Andrew Strauss and Timothy Baum of the Man Ray Expertise Committee have confirmed the authenticity of this work and that it will be included in the Catalogue of Works on Paper of Man Ray, currently in preparation.

Executed during a brief stay in London during the summer of 1937, L’attente is one of sixty original drawings created for Man Ray’s captivating Surrealist publication, Les mains libres, a collaborative project he had embarked upon with his close friend Paul Eluard in 1936. According to Man Ray, many of the drawings for Les mains libres were rooted in his dreams, their images a record of the thoughts and motifs that haunted him in sleep, which were then committed to paper upon waking. In L’attente, the intricately woven web hangs delicately from the unseen figure’s outstretched fingers in a manner that recalls the popular children’s game of cat’s cradle, though here a visual paradox presents itself – the fragile strings would invariably break as soon as the fingers moved, the pattern torn asunder by the hands rather than created by them. Each of the images in Les mains libres was subsequently ‘illustrated’ by Eluard in the form of a short poem, which took inspiration directly from Man Ray’s drawings, a reversal of the typical relationship between artist and writer in such a project. For L’attente, Eluard chooses not to mention the spider at all in the poem, instead conjuring just a single line of text to accompany the image: ‘Je n’ai jamais tenu sa tête dans mes mains’ (Éluard, ‘L’attente’, in Les Mains Libres, Paris, 1937).

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