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MAN RAY (1890-1976)
Dada was very serviceable as a purgative. Marcel Duchamp
MAN RAY (1890-1976)

Monte Carlo Banknote (Marcel Duchamp), 1921

Details
MAN RAY (1890-1976)
Monte Carlo Banknote (Marcel Duchamp), 1921
gelatin silver print on carte postale, printed 1930s
'Rue Campagne Première' (Manford M28) credit stamp (on the verso)
image/sheet: 4 5/8 x 3 7/8in. (11.7 x 10cm.)
Provenance
The Estate of Man Ray
Literature
Modernist Masterworks to 1925 from 'the deLIGHTed eye', A Private Collection, International Center of Photography, New York, 1985, p. 7
Exhibited
Modernist Masterworks to 1925 from 'the deLIGHTed eye,' A Private Collection, International Center of Photography, New York, May 15-June 16, 1985

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Lot Essay

In his autobiography, Man Ray describes the origins of Duchamp's Banknote:
'Having finished his optical machine..., Duchamp now turned his attention to a different problem. In some of his previous creations the unknown and mysterious laws of chance and hazard had been the starting point. He wished to probe these more deeply -- to master them so that the results of premeditated action could be foreseen, controlled. And so he took up roulette. He studied the monthly sheets of all the numbers that came up, published by Monte Carlo, and worked out a system of placing his money that would infallibly bring in a return profit. But, to put his project into practice, capital was needed. He obtained a loan of about six hundred dollars from various friends, guaranteed by an issue of thirty bonds at twenty dollars, the form of which he designed. It was a lithograph of a green roulette table, bearing a red-and-black roulette wheel with its numbers, in the center of which was a portrait of himself. But this portrait, which I made for him, was taken while his hair and face were in a white lather during a shave and a shampoo. Otherwise, the bond looked quite professional with complicated engraving and script, as well as interest-bearing tabs to be paid periodically. Armed with his capital, he installed himself in Monte Carlo and went regularly to the casino where he played his system carefully and according to plan. He won small sums, but never enough to reimburse his backers; for this a much larger capital was necessary.
'And the long, tiring seances in the stuffy casino were exhausting. The game wasn't worth the effort. Duchamp returned to Paris, satisfied that he had conquered the laws of chance. Nothing was said about payment to the investors, but the bonds are now collectors' items, very rare, and worth much more than the original investment. I have been offered two hundred dollars for my bond, but I treasure it enough not to part with it. I consider it one of the best investments I have ever made. One thousand percent profit. Only the most improbable luck at roulette could match this.' Man Ray, Self Portrait, 1963, pp. 235-236
This print, made in the 1930s, is extraordinarily rare. The presence of the Manford M28 posthumous stamp would suggest that this print was in Man Ray's possession until his death and was stamped afterwards by Lucien Treillard before its release onto the market.

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