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Vénus restaurée

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  • Giovanna Fazzuoli asked

    To Whom It May Concern,
    I would be very grateful if you could provide me with the replica's edition number.
    Many thanks,
    Giovanna Fazzuoli

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Dear Giovanna, the 'Vénus restaurée' that is part of our collection is the 'épreuve d'artiste', or 'artist proof', which we acquired directly from the artist. Best, Rianne


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More information

Man Ray used a cast of a classical sculpture to create a new work. The torso is a fragment and the 'restoration' from the title is ambiguous. Man Ray has not added the missing limbs and the head, but has laced up the torso with rope as a strange variant of a corset. This sculpture is an by the artist authorised reconstruction of the original art work.

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Title Vénus restaurée
Material and technique Plaster, rope, wood, paint
Object type
Sculpture > Three-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is travelling
Dimensions Width 42 cm
Diameter 39 cm
Height 74 cm
Artists Kunstenaar: Man Ray
Accession number BEK 1502 (MK)
Credits Aankoop / Purchase: 1972
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1972
Age artist About 46 years old
Provenance Artist’s collection
Exhibitions Rotterdam/Paris/Humlebaek 1971-72; Antwerp 1994; London 1995; Rotterdam 1996a; Drachten 1998; Paris/Düsseldorf 2002; London/Rotterdam/Bilbao 2007-08; Rotterdam 2014b; Copenhagen 2015; Rotterdam 2017b
Internal exhibitions Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture (2014)
The Collection Enriched (2011)
Collectie - surrealisme (2017)
External exhibitions Humor - 101 jaar lachen om kunst (2017)
Man Ray (2018)
Dal nulla al sogno (2018)
Surrealist Art - Masterpieces from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (2021)
Research Digitising Contemporary Art
A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen
Literature Rotterdam/Paris/Humlebaek 1971-72, p. 148, cat. no. 162, fig. p. 79; Schwarz 1977, p. 188, fig. 288; Man Ray/Martin 1983, p. 149, cat. no. 58; Man Ray/J. Man Ray/Foresta 1988, p. 315; Antwerp 1994, cat. no. 375; Drachten 1998, cat. no. 22; Rotterdam 2007, p. 88; London 2008, p. 131; Kamien-Kazhdan 2012, p. 109; Rotterdam 2014, pp. 230-31, cat. no. 50
Geographical origin The United States of America > North America > America

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Entry catalogus Digitising Contemporary Art, A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen

Author: Marijke Peyser

At first the title ‘Venus Restored’ wrong-foots the viewer. A plaster cast of a torso of the Roman goddess of love, modelled after the famous Hellenic Venus de’ Medici, is tied up with a rope. In 1937 Man Ray gave this Venus’s head a tight net. An earlier work that belongs in the same series is the assembly Mire universelle from 1933.[1] This work shows the three Graces –Venus’s servants – as mutilated beauties with no heads and broken legs.[2]

With his Vénus restaurée Man Ray was representing bondage – being tied up as part of sadomasochistic sex. In the 1930s the artist made a number of works referencing the ideas of the eighteenth-century writer, the Marquis de Sade. Man Ray’s fascination with De Sade and his views of love and sadism began when the artist was still living in the United States. Adon Lacroix, Man Ray’s first wife, introduced him to what the French author Guillaume Apollinaire had written about De Sade.[3] Man Ray admired De Sade, who because of his beliefs spent many years in prison, where he wrote a passionate defence of individualism and freedom. The freedom that concerned him was not driven by morality, religion or the law. The Surrealists saw De Sade as a source of inspiration, an example of a man who rebelled against the established order.

The original 1936 sculpture was lost, but it had been photographed by the artist. In 1971 Galleria Schwarz published an edition of ten copies based on the photograph and executed under the artist’s supervision. In 1964 the gallery owner Arturo Schwarz had also been responsible for reproductions of the work of Marcel Duchamp (see Bouche-évier). Man Ray used the plaster Venus torso – with and without the ropes – in his photographs in various ways. For example he depicted the plaster cast with the head of a girl in 1934, a reversal of Coat Stand, where her body is visible but her head has been replaced.[4]

Almost at the same time as Man Ray made his Vénus restaurée, another classical Venus figure inspired Salvador Dalí to make his Vénus de Milo aux tiroirs. But whereas the various drawers in the forehead, breasts, stomach and one of the knees of Dalí’s Venus refer to the subconscious, Man Ray’s Venus, albeit quite serene, more explicitly refers to suppressed erotic desires.



[1] For a detailed interpretation of this assembly, see Schwarz 1980, pp. 192-98.

[2] For other works by Man Ray inspired by the Venus motif see Rotterdam 2014, pp. 230-33.

[3] L’oeuvre du Marquis de Sade (1909) among them.

[4] See Rotterdam 2014, pp. 230-33.

Show research Digitising Contemporary Art Show research A dream collection - Surrealism in Museum Boijmans Van beuningen
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