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Man Ray (1890-1976)
THE MICHAEL SCHARF FAMILY COLLECTION
Man Ray (1890-1976)

The Rug

Details
Man Ray (1890-1976)
The Rug
signed and dated 'Man Ray-14' (lower left); signed and dated again and titled 'Man Ray 1914 THE RUG' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
18 ½ x 20 5/8 in. (46.8 x 52.4 cm.)
Painted in Ridgefield in 1914
Provenance
Galleria Il Fauno (Luciano Anselmino), Turin (acquired from the artist, by 1974).
Studio Marconi (Giorgio Marconi), Milan.
Private collection, Turin; sale, Christie's, London, 9 December 1999, lot 367.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
L.V. Masini, Man Ray, Florence, 1974 (illustrated in color, fig. 2).
R. Penrose, Man Ray, London, 1975, p. 204, no. 10 (illustrated, p. 38).
K.A. Rabbito, "Man Ray in Quest of Modernism," The Rutgers Art Review, vol. I, January 1980, pp. 59-69 (illustrated, p. 62, fig. 7).
Exhibited
New York, Montross Gallery, Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, March-April 1915, no. 47.
Pasadena Art Institute and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Retrospective Exhibition, 1913-1944: Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, Photographs by Man Ray, September-October 1944, no. 8.
Princeton University, The Art Museum, Man Ray, March-April 1963, no. 1.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Man Ray, October-December 1966, p. 54, no. 12 (illustrated, p. 69).
Rome, Il Collezionista d'Arte Contemporanea, Man Ray: Opere, 1914-1973, October-December 1973, pp. 18-19 and 153 (illustrated in color, p. 19; with inverted dimensions).
New York, The New York Cultural Center, Man Ray: Inventor, Painter, Poet, December 1974-March 1975, no. 8.
London, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, Man Ray, April-June 1975, no. 7.
Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Man Ray: L'occhio e il suo doppio: dipinti, collages, disegni, invenzioni fotografiche oggetti d'affezione, libri, cinema, July-September 1975, no. 17 (illustrated).
Turin, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Man Ray: La costruzione dei sensi, October 1995-January 1996, p. 2 (illustrated in color).
Nice, Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain, Man Ray: Rétrospective, March-June 1997, pp. 36 and 331 (illustrated in color, p. 36).
New Jersey, Montclair Art Museum; Athens, Georgia Museum of Art and Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Conversion to Modernism: The Early Work of Man Ray, February 2003-April 2004, p. ix, no. 119 (illustrated in color, p. 97).

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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 Paintings of Man Ray, currently in preparation.

In 1913, Man Ray met Adon Lacroix, known as Donna, a French poet who he would marry a year later. Man Ray describes his first interaction with Donna: “Donna was her name, and I asked her to take a walk with me…She was beautiful with her golden hair and gray eyes, and had a wistful strained expression on her face” (Self-Portrait, Boston, 1963, p. 36). Due to compositional similarities that the work shares with a canvas from the same period entitled The Lovers, it is apparent The Rug portrays the artist and his wife intertwined in an intimate embrace. A guitar held by one of the figures further references Donna, as she could often be found playing the instrument.
When Man Ray relocated to a small cabin in Ridgefield, New Jersey, Donna accompanied him. He recalls often worrying about Donna, fearing she would grow bored when left alone during his excursions to the city. However, an artist in her own right, Donna wrote poetry and prose in his absence—equally inspired by the surroundings of her new rural retreat. The angular figures in The Rug are, at first, difficult to decipher against the jagged mountains that frame them. “The shape of the reclining figure in the foreground is articulated in such a way as to echo the profile of the distant mountain range, a repetition of form that might have contributed to the painting’s title, The Rug,” writes Francis Naumann, “for the overall effect is not dissimilar from the decorative pattern found in Native American blankets or Persian rugs” (exh. cat., op. cit., 2003, p. 96). Indeed, the composition of The Rug does have a pattern-like effect that harmoniously blends the figures and their setting into one striking unity.

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