1929 Signed Man Ray Photograph & 1934 Book
My grandmother Marguerite was born in, uh, Paris. This photograph is of her in, uh, 1929. She was 25, 24 years old. It's part of a series of photographs by Man Ray. The photo was given by my grandmother to my mom and then my mom gave it to me.
In 1921, Man Ray moved to Paris and he immediately became an integral member of the Dada and then the Surrealist groups. He was fortunate enough to be exhibiting very early upon his arrival. But commercially, he wasn't as successful as he would have liked. So this led him to open a portrait gallery in 1922, which allowed him to have an income, but then also could practice works to express his own artistic endeavors. Here we have a perfect example of Man Ray's artistic expression coming through in a portrait, and we can tell that he meant it to be a final work of art he really beautifully mounted it, and then has his signature below. It's a complete dreamlike state that is emphasized by her eyes being closed, and additionally, this defying gravity motion of her hair. Women at the time during the Surrealist movement were often used to be seen as opposed for them to see. And again, this is exemplified with her eyes being closed. It's really not about her seeing and a documentation of her likeness. It's more about his artistic expression. In other places this work has been displayed, the picture usually inverted, so it's usually, her portrait is at the top, with her hair flowing downward...
...which almost makes a little more sense, 'cause it goes along with gravity. But in here, we have this totally Surrealist idea of her face at the bottom and then her hair flowing upward. This brings us to the book. In 1934, Man Ray put together about 100 images and sent them to the publisher James Thrall Soby to create a book that he was hoping to have published in America and show the public what he was doing in Europe. Now, what's exciting about your book and makes it very special is, we have this great inscription, which says, "For Guite, who helped make this book with her golden hair, Man Ray." The book is titled "Photographs by Man Ray: 1920 Paris 1934." And what's really special is, within this book, we have Guite. The orientation is inverted. So how wonderful for the concept of Surrealism to be able to have a single work in either orientation, kind of a totally different and exciting meaning to it. And also to allow people to experience it in a different way. If you see this book on the market, you often do see the cover falling off. It has this plastic spiral spine that wasn't really well made. This book in really good condition, I would estimate at $3,000 to $5,000. The book has an added value because it's signed by Man Ray. But having said that, the condition is really rough. In the current condition, I would estimate it at $1,500 to $2,500. Now we come to the print. The image is quite special. We do have some foxing on the mat, and additionally some silver mirroring, particularly in the darks around the print. There also are some emulsion chips throughout. An estimate to have this work conserved would be anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000. I would have it conserved. And then if you were ever to offer it at auction, I would estimate the work at $25,000 to $35,000.
In the current condition, I would estimate this print at $20,000 to $30,000.
(chuckles): Wow. I had no idea.
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