I have finally freed myself from the sticky medium of paint, and am working directly with light itself.
Gagosian is pleased to present The Mysteries of Château du Dé, an exhibition of works by Man Ray.
During his storied career, Man Ray, a multidisciplinary artist with a rare breadth, worked in a variety of mediums, including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, film, poetry, and prose. While for him photography and painting were paramount, his work in early film and cinema is often overlooked.
Man Ray’s first experience in making film was in New York, in 1920, when he worked with Marcel Duchamp on an unsuccessful attempt to create a three-dimensional film. After moving to Paris, in 1921, his diverse experimentation in the medium of photography eventually led him back to the moving image.
The film Emak Bakia (1926), with its dreamlike distortions and tilted camera angles, veers toward Surrealism, which Man Ray had embraced, as the Dada movement dwindled. L’étoile de mer (1928) features his oft-depicted muse, Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin), and André de la Rivière. Made by shooting into mirrors and through rough glass, the distorted, out-of focus images are interspersed with intertitles from an otherwise lost work by poet Robert Desnos. Through his film work, which functioned as a kinetic extension of his still photography, Man Ray became a leading exponent of Cinéma Pur, or “Pure Cinema,” which rejected such “bourgeois” conceits as character, setting, and plot. At the request of the Vicomte de Noailles, Man Ray made a film, in 1929, to document the Vicomte’s art collection and château in the South of France. The longest of Man Ray’s films, Les Mystères du Château du Dé was not intended for public screening, and is thus a more personal film, paying homage to Stéphane Mallarmé’s 1897 modernist poem “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard” (A throw of the dice will never abolish chance). Les Mystères du château du dé follows a pair of travelers on a journey from Paris to the Villa Noailles in Hyères, which features a triangular Cubist garden designed by Gabriel Guevrekian.
In addition to these three key films, the exhibition also includes objects, drawings, and photography. Moving fluidly between media, Man Ray often made several iterations of a work—photographing it, assembling and disassembling, or making multiples—reproduction being crucial to his concept of the art object. For example, the motif of the soccer ball recurs in two discrete works, both titled Jeux Nocturnes (c. 1970), in which a functional ball is bound in a net and hung on the wall like a painting. Throughout his vast body of work, Man Ray alluded to relationships between the real and the fictive, the literal and the imaginative, with a deft mastery over the liminal territory between the abstract and the figurative form.
An introductory text for this exhibition was written by Timothy Baum, a dealer, collector, and writer specializing in Dada and Surrealism. Together with Andrew Strauss, Baum is working on a catalogue raisonné of paintings and objects by Man Ray. This exhibition was developed in collaboration with the Man Ray Trust.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019
The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.
Man Ray: Visual Poet and Wit
At the 2018 Frieze Masters fair in London, Gagosian’s stand presented more than ninety works by Man Ray: objects and assemblages, collages, oils, prints, drawings, and photographs. Richard Calvocoressi traces the development of the artist’s wide-ranging work and looks at his legendary three-year collaboration with Lee Miller.
Gagosian Quarterly Talks
Exiles in Paradise
Lawrence Weschler profiles the European exiles in Los Angeles during the 1930s and ’40s, examining how cultural visionaries, from Man Ray to Arnold Schoenberg, navigated the dramatic change in setting.
Man Ray’s LA
Timothy Baum explores this period of transition in response to an exhibition of Man Ray’s vintage gelatin silver photographs from his “Hollywood” period.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.
In the early 1980s, Ira Nowinski visited a studio frozen in time.
SQÜRL—Jim Jarmusch & Carter Logan
Live Scores for Films by Man Ray
Thursday, January 16, 2020, 6:30pm
906 World Cultural Center, San Francisco
SQÜRL, featuring filmmaker and composer Jim Jarmusch and producer and composer Carter Logan, will perform live original scores to four films by Man Ray: L’étoile de mer (1928), Emak Bakia (1926), Le retour à la raison (1923), and Les mystères du Château du Dé (1929). The performance is presented by Gagosian in association with the exhibition Man Ray: The Mysteries of Château du Dé at Gagosian, San Francisco. Doors open at 6pm; performance begins at 6:30pm. The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, RSVP to email@example.com.
SQÜRL (Carter Logan and Jim Jarmusch). Photo: Sara Driver