Lot Details

Conceived in 1921 and executed in 1974 by Luciano Anselmino, Turin, in an edition of 5000 numbered and signed copies. (This is 1357/5000)

In "Cadeau" Man Ray takes a seemingly benign flat-iron and with a menacing row of nails, transforms it into something at once familiar and threatening. In expressing the conflicting subconscious desires to sooth and harm, Man Ray anticipates Surrealism. 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.

Man Ray's Cadeau or ‘Gift’, is one of the famous icons of the surrealist movement. It consists of an everyday continental flat iron of the sort that had to be heated on a stove, transformed here into a non-functional, disturbing object by the addition of a single row of fourteen tacks. The transformation of such a mundane, domestic item into a strange, unnameable object with sadistic connotations exemplified the power of the object within DADA and surrealism to escape the rule of logic and the conventional identification of words and objects. Man Ray once said, ‘There are objects that need names.

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.

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.

In MINT condition; in original packaging- beautifully packed by Anselmino -- just like a "Cadeau" should be!!

Read more
Publication: Man Ray, Objets De Mon Affection: Sculptures et Objets, Catalogue Raisonné (French and English Edition) Philippe Sers edition, 1993
The seller has recorded the following condition for this lot:

Definition Key
Image The central image area, composition, or focal point; the area inside the margins/plate marks.
Margin Areas bordering the central image, outside the plate marks, or the perimeter area.
Edge The farthest edge of the object.
Verso The reverse/back of the object.

Minor An existing condition which generally does not involve risk of loss.
Moderate Noticeable damage, increasing in severity and/or size; should be monitored or corrected by a conservator.
Major Distinct, recognizable damage; the stability of the work is questionable and risk is a factor. Requires the attention of a conservator.
Extreme Advanced and severe damage; work is insecure and at great risk.

  • Provenance: Publisher: Luciano Anselmino - Turin - 1974 Production: Giorgio Barutti - Venice Casting: Mirano Foundry - Venice Private Collection, USA
"Unconcerned, but not indifferent", May Ray Exhibition, the Photomuseum The Hague. (January-April 2009)
  • Pickup Location: New York, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 6.5 x 4 x 3.5 in. (16.51 x 10.16 x 8.89 cm.)
Accepted: Wire Transfer, Check
Note: 4% fee for Paypal and credit card payments
no fee for wire transfer, personal check, cashier's check or money order
artnet Assurance Policy: Every artnet Auctions seller has been approved by artnet after a thorough review. All of our sellers are required to accept the following artnet policy: A buyer may return an item purchased through artnet Online Auctions, if the item received is not as described in its listing, or is found to be not authentic.
Please see our full Return Policy for details.

Comparable Works

Log In or Register to view comparable works.