MAN RAY (born Emmanuel Radnitzky; 1890-1976)
Mr. and Mrs. Woodman
The Hague: Edition Unida, 1970. 4to. (10 7/8 x 9 3/4 inches). 27 gelatin silver prints, each tipped to thick card. Each stamped 'épreuve originale Man Ray', the first one also signed in ink on the reverse. Signed and numbered '49' in ink (colophon). Number 49 from an edition of 50 signed copies numbered 1-50; plus 9 signed copies numbered 1-9 accompanied by the original wooden mannequins; and 15 copies numbered I - XV reserved for the artist and his collaborators (total edition, 76 copies). Together with an engraving (sheet size: 10 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches), signed and editioned '49/50' in pencil by the artist.
Original red morocco by M. Bueno, front cover blind-stamped with monograph 'MR', spine lettered in gilt, gilt edges, marbled endpapers, lacking original paper-covered slipcase edged with red morocco.
Among the exclusive selection of just 50 signed copies, Man Ray's Mr. and Mrs. Woodman stands as a captivating testament to the artist's profound commentary on the artificiality of gender roles and the performative nature of identity.
This remarkable series comprises 27 photographs featuring wooden artist's mannequins arranged in a mesmerizing array of sexual positions. Originally photographed in Hollywood in 1947, these evocative images were later published in this limited edition in 1970. Man Ray's exploration of mannequins traces back to the late 1920s and remained a recurring theme throughout his illustrious career. In his photographs and sculptures, he masterfully wielded these lifeless, stylized figures as conduits for conveying intricate ideas and narratives. With Mr. and Mrs. Woodman, the artist employed the mannequins as surrogate beings, deftly manipulating their forms to delve into the boundless possibilities of erotic visual language and challenge conventional notions of representation. In true surrealist fashion, Man Ray departed from the traditional use of artist's mannequins for mere life studies. Instead, he breathed life into these wooden figures, liberating them from their inherent inanimate quality. With distinct names, individual stories, and intricately crafted intimacies, the mannequins assumed a palpable vitality, blurring the boundaries between the animate and the inanimate. Mr. and Mrs. Woodman exist as both idealized and abstracted versions of human beings. Through their meticulously arranged poses and sculpted forms, they embody notions of beauty, desire, and societal expectations. Yet, these enigmatic figures transcend their mere representations, evoking profound contemplation on the interplay between artifice and authenticity, the complexities of human relationships, and the fluidity of identity. Mr. and Mrs. Woodman engages the viewer in a visual dialogue that oscillates between fascination and discomfort, ultimately underscoring Man Ray's enduring legacy as a visionary artist and a bold provocateur.