100 x 32 cm
Aluminum, spray paint
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by Sammlung Rolf und Friedel Gutmann
One of the most exciting centers of European art history in the 20th century was Paris in the 1920s. Artists and writers like Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, James Joyce, Luis Buñuel, and Ernest Hemingway created a thriving scene, where they met together and inspired one another. Among them was also the photographer, filmmaker, and object artist Man Ray (born 1890 in Philadelphia, USA, died 1976 in Paris, France), who arrived from the US in 1921.
Ray was the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, and he grew up in modest conditions. He decided to become an artist already when he was young, and he studied at the Ferrer Center in New York, which was a freethinking school, where he was encouraged to find his own genuine and personal form of expression. He then got to know the gallerist Alfred Stieglitz from New York, who introduced him to the pictures and ideas of the European avant-garde. A decisive factor for Man Ray’s moving to Paris and his further artistic career was his friendship with Marcel Duchamp, who he most likely got to know in New York in 1915 and whose ready-mades inspired him to work with found objects himself. Also at this time, he continued to successfully experiment with the media of photography and film.
Man Ray soon made a name for himself in the Paris art scene. (Woody Allen brought this exciting time back to life in his comedy “Midnight in Paris” in 2011 in which Man Ray also appears.) Many of his famous contemporaries had their picture taken by him, including Duchamp, of course, as well as Picasso, Joyce, Stein, and Dalí. Man Ray became a figure in art history not only through his portrait photography, but also mainly through his Surrealist and Dadaist works.
One of his more famous works is “Cadeau,” which consists of a flat iron on which tacks are glued from 1921. The form of his “Spiral” from the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv is based on one of his earlier ready-mades of a modified lampshade. The “Spiral” was produced as an artist’s multiple for the Edition MAT, which Daniel Spoerri founded in 1959. MAT stands for Multiplication d'Art Transformable – in other words, for artist’s multiples that can move or (as in this case) be moved.