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Man Ray (American, 1890–1976)
LOT ID: 77423
Cadeau, 1921

Mixed Media Sculpture Edition, Cast Iron with Brown Patina and Copper Nails
6.5 х 4 х 3.5 in. (16.51 x 10.16 x 8.89 cm.)
Signed, stamped, Inscribed and marked "Cadeau" in white paint; numbered 2035 from the edition of 5000 on the handle accompanied by a 3.25 by 2.25 inch card marking the number of the sculpture; The sculpture is also accompanied by a certified, signed, 4-page brochure measuring 5.75 by 8.25 inches from Arturo Schwarz, also bearing the work's unique number. Housed in an elegant presentation box with accompanying documentation.
Print/Casting Year 1974
Edition 2035/5000
Foundry/Publisher Luciano Anselmino - Turin
Lot description
Cadeau is one of the most recognizable icons of the Surrealist movement.

In "Cadeau" Man Ray takes a seemingly benign, functional everyday object: a flat-iron, and with the addition of a single, menacing row of nails, transforms it into something at once familiar and threatening, with sadistic connotations. In expressing the conflicting subconscious desires to sooth and harm, Man Ray anticipates Surrealism. Indeed, "Cadeau" exemplified the power of the object within Dada and Surrealism to escape the conventional identification and associations of words and objects. First created in 1921 at the height of Paris Dada, the sculpture’s title, ‘Cadeau’ (French for ‘gift’) adds the characteristically Dadaist maniacal, nihilistic edge.

In his autobiography Man Ray recounted the story of the making of the original 1921 Cadeau. On the day of the opening of his first solo exhibition in Paris he had a drink with the composer Erik Satie and on leaving the café saw a hardware store. There with Satie’s help, he bought the iron, some glue and some nails, and went to the gallery where he made the object on the spot. He intended his friends to draw lots for the work, called ‘Cadeau’, but the piece was stolen during the course of the afternoon. It is however, immortalized in the iconic photographic that was taken at the exhibition.

Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray’s dealer and author of a monograph on the artist, has written of this object:
"Cadeau" ("Gift") is a typical product of Man Ray’s double-edged humour. Its sadistic implications need not be stressed. Its erotic aspect is revealed by Man Ray’s remark: ‘You can tear a dress to ribbons with it. I did it once, and asked a beautiful eighteen-year-old coloured girl to wear as it as she danced. Her body showed through as she moved around, it was like a bronze in movement. It was really beautiful."

Man Ray’s intentions, which might be seen as merely to deride the iron’s functions, are much more subtle. Man Ray never destroys, he always modifies and enriches. In this case, he provides the flatiron with a new role, a role that we dimly guess, and the probably accounts for the object’s strange fascination.

One of the most highly recognizable of the artist's trademark assemblages. Published by famous Italian Surrealist dealer Luciano Anselmo.

Included for reference only is an image of the famous photograph of the original Cadeau, all that remains after it disappeared in 1921. Thanks to Man Ray's dealer, Luciano Anselmino and Arturo Schwarz, and the Mirano foundry in Venice, who cast this marvelous sculptural edition, a new generation of collectors can own a casting of one of the most famous pieces in Dada and Surrealist history!

Conceived in 1921 and executed in 1974 by Luciano Anselmino, Turin, in an edition of 5000 numbered and signed copies, along with full documentation from the Mirano foundry in Venice and the publisher.


In MINT condition; in original packaging- beautifully packed by Anselmino. "Cadeau", aptly, makes a great gift!

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Cadeau by Man Ray
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