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Estimate: $ 20,000 - $ 30,000
MAN RAY. Electricité. Text by Pierre Bost. With 10 photogravures after Man Ray's rayographs, the images measuring approximately 10 1/4x8 1/8inches (26x20.6 cm.), and the reverse, tipped to the mounts 14 3/4x10 7/8 inches (37.4x27.6 cm.), each with Man Ray's signature in the negative; each enclosed in a vellum folder with the printed title. Folio-sized printed folder, front cover creased, age-darkened at edges; with the printed introductory text and the colophon; contents loose as issued. NUMBER 356 of 500 NUMBERED COPIES. Paris: Commissioned by La Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d'Electricité, 1931
Man Ray (1890-1976), who was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, worked in photography, painting, print-making, and sculpture. After moving to Paris from New York City, he set up a photography studio to suppport his artistic endeavors, and subsequently hired Berenice Abbott as his assistant.
Électricité reflects Man Ray's use of the rayograph, a one-of-a-kind cameraless photograph, which he codified in the 1920s. The national electric company, La Campagnie Parisiene de Distribution d'Électricité, commissioned Man Ray to encourage popular tastes to shift from the use of coal, natural gas, and wood to a more modern source of energy, electricity. Interestingly his visual project marketed this shift with a host of experimental, abstract (read: modernist) images, all in his signature style, attesting to France's support of avant-garde emigré artists.
The photogravures include: (1) Électricité [Nude Torso] (2) Le Souffle [Fan] (3) Cuisine [Fowl] (4) Lingerie [Iron and Hand] (5) Salle a Manger [Toaster] (6) Salle de Bain [Nude Torso] (7) La Maison [Light Bulbs and Lamp Shade] (8) La Ville [Montmartre Marquees] (9) Le Monde [Moon and Switch] (10) Électricité [Light Bulb].