Dada bonanza to make millions

Man Ray's favourites, nudes and nightmares among more than 500 of his w orks for sale
Click to follow
The Independent Online
The most comprehensive sale of the work of the surrealist American painter and photographer Man Ray is being sold by his late widow's executors, writes Marianne Macdonald.

The two-day March auction at Sotheby's of more than 500 works will include paintings, drawings, objects, photographs and lithographs, estimated to fetch £2.2m-£3.2m.

They comprise the contents of Man Ray's studio when he died in 1976 and, in many cases, are works he was particularly fond of or had refused to sell. The highlight is Le Beau Temps, which Man Ray refused to sell despite numerous offers from museums. The 1939 painting inspired by a series of vivid nightmares is one of his greatest works and estimated to fetch up to £800,000.

Man Ray was born Emmanuel Rudnitzky in Philadelphia in 1890. He became famous for his paintings and for founding the New York Dada movement, the nihilistic precursor of surrealism. Later he became known for his photography, documenting works of fellow Dadaists and concentrating on portraiture and nude studies. He photographed Picasso, Stravinsky and the model and photographer Lee Miller with whom he lived, threatening suicide when she left him in 1932.

Many of his works were so startling and original that he influenced generations of artists. For example, he expunged his emotions over Miller by painting Observatory Time - The Lovers, a mournful depiction of a giant pair of the model's lips floating against a mackerel sky. It is now in a private collection.

In Hollywood, he created Palettable, an artist's palette which rested on legs to become a table (estimated to fetch £8,000 to £12,000) and painted a baguette blue, put it on scales and christened it Pain Peint - Blue Bred: Favorite Food for the Blue Birds (£15,000-£20,000).

Last year Man Ray made the world record for a single print when his surrealist photograph of a face dotted by glass tears sold for £122,500 at Sotheby's. In April that was bettered by the sale of his photograph Noir et Blanche for £239,527 at Christie's.