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Man Ray

Lampshade (Spiral), from Edition MAT


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The American artist Man Ray is best known for his experimental Surrealist photography. However, before moving to Paris in 1920, he exhibited Dadaist paintings and assisted readymades developed in close dialogue with Marcel Duchamp, whom he met in 1915. Lampshade (Spiral) is an iconic work that combines elements of the readymade with those of the mobile. The original sculpture, created in 1919, consisted of a strip of paper torn from a broken lampshade and attached to a stand previously used to hold a dress. Pleased by the resulting form, Man Ray decided to present it at the opening exhibition of the Société Anonyme, Inc., an interdisciplinary art institution founded by Katherine Dreier, Marcel Duchamp, and himself. Before the exhibition opened, however, a janitor disposed of the paper spiral, mistaking it for leftover wrapping for the stand. In 1964 Man Ray created this sculptural alternative in metal. Suspended from the ceiling, the spiral reverses, speeds up, or returns to stasis in response to currents in the air. [Permanent collection label, 2017]

  • Artist Man Ray (American, 1890–1976)
  • Title Lampshade (Spiral), from Edition MAT
  • Date 1919/1964
  • Medium Aluminum sheet sprayed white
  • Edition description 5/100
  • Dimensions overall | 47 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (closed)
  • Credit line University purchase, Bixby Fund, and with funds from Paul Burlin and Constance Wittcoff, by exchange, 2013
  • Object number WU 2013.0004

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art, 1959–1965
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 02/07/2020 - 01/03/2021

Moving Parts: Time and Motion in Contemporary Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 05/09/2014 - 08/31/2014

4/11/2013 (ACC Approved)
Matthew Zucker, Zucker Art Books (New York, NY)

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