On September 6th 2023, Luxembourg + Co., New York, will open Man Ray: Other Objects. The first of its kind, this exhibition invites visitors to experience in person the premise of an artist’s practice that relied on and relished in the absence of originals.
Often considered as unique artworks, Man Ray’s original sculptures possibly never existed. They are often only known through the artist’s accounts in writing, conversations, or conspicuously dated photographs. In place of these absent signifiers, however, Man Ray created alternative variations on multiples occasions throughout his career, under morphed titles, materials, and in various quantities. These he sometimes called ‘replicas’, on other occasions ‘editions’, and when something clicked and the work really evolved, he would refer to them as ‘new originals’. In either case, however, objects never emerged in Man Ray’s practice merely as copies of an earlier, superior version. Rather, they were each a new stage in the life of the piece, an accumulation of meaning that had come to create a more complex entity.
A metronome with an eye pending on its needle, a flat iron with tacks on its surface, a hanging mobile made of coat hangers, a plaster female torso tied in rope, and a group of small vertical sculptures fondly nicknamed ‘monuments’ by the artist, these are the five objects that constitute the exhibition. They are familiar symbols of Dada and Surrealist sensibility, yet all tell mysterious stories about their inception in the 1910s and 20s that puts their very existence in doubt. Rather than showing one example of each, as it has been the case in previous displays of the artist’s work, Man Ray: Other Objects exposes the evolution of each object in its various states, alternatives, and titles. The exhibition is therefore an unlikely experiment that places a defined group of objects side by side only to exemplify how inconsistency, difference and originality can be manifested through the process of reproduction and multiplication.
Loans to the exhibition include the first replica of Cadeau made by Man Ray from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York and a unique object representing the head of Vénus from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome, which will be shown in America for the first time.
Man Ray: Other Objects will open in Luxembourg + Co’s recently inaugurated space in the Fuller Building, at 595 Madison Avenue; a pivotal historic site in the New York art scene since the early 20th century. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new book, published by Buchhandlung Walter und Franz Koenig, and including essays providing deep insight on each category of works by David Campany, Peter Fischli, Alyce Mahon, Jennifer Mundy, and Margrethe Troensegaard.