Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Compass

Artist:
Man Ray (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1890–1976 Paris)
Date:
1920
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
11.7 x 8.6 cm (4 5/8 x 3 3/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
Accession Number:
1987.1100.40
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 910
Before leaving Paris for New York in 1921, Man Ray made several constructions that questioned the authority of logic and science over the imagination. This quirky instrument, which he called "Compass," was one. The fields of force to which it might respond are as erratic and potentially as destructive as a game of Russian roulette. After making the exposure, Man Ray characteristically disassembled the magnet-and-pistol device, leaving only this single original print as the reminder of a provocative Dada idea. It is "purely cerebral yet material" (as Man Ray said of Marcel Duchamp's "Large Glass"), whimsical yet deadly earnest.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in pencil on mount, recto, below print, bottom left: "Man Ray"; bottom right: "1920"
Arturo Schwarz, Milan, Italy; [Prakapas Gallery, Bronxville, New York]; John C. Waddell, New York (June 1984)

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