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Cadeau / Audace

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On the day of the opening of his first exhibition in Paris, Man Ray bought a flatiron, carpet tacks and glue. In the gallery he stuck a single line of the nails on the sole plate of the iron, and added the new work to the exhibition under the title ‘Cadeau’. It was his first Dada object in France. He planned to raffle it among his friends, but it disappeared from the exhibition that same afternoon.

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Collection book

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Title Cadeau / Audace
Material and technique Cast iron and copper tacks
Object type
Sculpture > Three-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is travelling
Dimensions Width 10 cm
Height 16.5 cm
Depth 10 cm
Artists Kunstenaar: Man Ray
Accession number BEK 1685 (MK)
Credits Aankoop / Purchase: 1995
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 1995
Age artist About 31 years old
Provenance Galerie Il Fauno, Turin 1974; Arturo Schwarz, Milan; Diego Strasser, Verona; Gianni Morghen, Arco; Galerie A, Amsterdam 1995
Exhibitions Rotterdam 1996a; London 1997; London/Rotterdam/Bilbao 2007-08; New York 2009-10; Rotterdam 2014b
Internal exhibitions De collectie als tijdmachine (2017)
Brancusi, Rosso, Man Ray - Framing Sculpture (2014)
Alles kids (2016)
Gek van surrealisme (2017)
External exhibitions 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 New York/Los Angeles/Chicago 1968, p. 31, fig. 38; Rotterdam/Paris 1971-72, p. 146, cat. no. 151, fig. p. 74*; Munich 1973-74, p. 206, cat. no. 94*; Penrose 1975, p. 71, fig. 33 (dated 1921 (1963))*; Man Ray/Martin 1983, pp. 43, 142, 145; Man Ray/J. Man Ray/Foresta 1988, pp. 313-14; Wood 2007, p. 178, fig. 10.2; Rotterdam 2007, pp. 38-39 (as Cadeau-Audace); Rotterdam 2014, pp. 212-13, cat. no. 43; Rotterdam 2017, p. 337
Geographical origin The United States of America > North America > America

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

Author: Marijke Peyser

Soon after Man Ray arrived in Paris in July 1921, Philippe Soupault suggested staging an exhibition of Man Ray’s work in his bookshop Librairie Six. It opened on 3 December 1921. Most of the works on show had been made in the United States. The catalogue contained frivolous texts by Louis Aragon, Jean (Hans) Arp, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst and Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, a fictional biography, a short explanation by Man Ray and a map showing the location.[1]

However there was no mention anywhere of a work made spontaneously that afternoon. During the vernissage Man Ray met a small, strange, talkative man in his fifties. It was the avant-garde composer Erik Satie, who spoke excellent English.[2] In the course of the afternoon the two men disappeared to a bar. A number of whiskies stimulated Man Ray’s imagination. On the way back he went into an ironmonger’s shop: ‘I picked up a flat iron, asked Satie to come inside with me, where, with his help, I acquired a box of tacks and a tube of glue. Back at the gallery I glued a row of tacks to the smooth surface of the iron, titled it ‘The Gift’, and added it to the exhibition. This was my first Dada object in France.’[3] Before Man Ray gave the object to Soupault as a gift, he took a photograph of it.[4] It was never actually handed over, however: the object disappeared that same afternoon. One of the visitors to the exhibition probably took it.

Man Ray made Cadeau three years before the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto (1924). It was a Dadaist object, but it anticipated later Surrealist objects – certainly in the erotic implications of ripping clothes instead of ironing out the creases. A high point in the history of Surrealism was Les objets surréalistes, an exhibition staged in the Charles Ratton Gallery in Paris in May 1936.[5] Cadeau was not there. It had, of course, disappeared without trace.



[1] Baldwin 1988, pp. 89-90 and New York 2009a, p. 219, note 10: there is a copy of this catalogue in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris.

[2] Satie was born on 17 May 1866. He was 59 when he met Man Ray.

[3] Man Ray 1963, p. 115.

[4] Man Ray/Martin 1983, p. 142. Penrose 1975, p. 71, wrote that Cadeau was intended for Satie. Patty Wageman wrote in Rotterdam 2014, p. 212, that Man Ray intended to raffle the object off among his friends.

[5] Man Ray also took part in this exhibition.

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