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Man Ray (USA 1890-1976)


To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 10 – 12 May 2023

Lot 442 Man Ray (USA 1890‑1976). ”Obstruction”. Inscribed, signed and dated on the top hanger: Obstruction Man Ray 1920/61, stamped numbering 8/15. Multiple consisting of 63 wooden hangers, Height ca. 94 cm.

Conceived in 1920; published in 1961 by Moderna Museet, Stockholm, in an edition of fifteen.
The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Association Internationale Man Ray. A certificate of authenticity will be issued to the purchaser of the work by the Association Internationale Man Ray, upon request, after the sale.


400.000 – 500.000 SEK
€ 35.000 – 44.000


Advertising consultant Birger Åström (1934-2012), Stockholm.
Thence by descent to the present owner.


Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray: The Rigour of Imagination, 1977, pp. 158, 160, 233, fig. 270 (1964 edition).
Jean-Hubert Martin, Man Ray: Objets de mon affection, 1983, p. 141,
no. 25, illustrated p. 38 (version from 1920).
Adina Kamien-Karzhdan, Remaking the Readymade: Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray in the Galleria Schwarz. PhD diss., University of Essex, Colchester, 2012, pp. 114–15, 130, 156, 230, 248–49.

In context

The American visual artist Man Ray spent most of his life in Paris. He moved to France from New York in 1922 and made his first rayographs the same year. He placed objects, materials and sometimes even parts of his own or a model’s body onto a sheet of photosensitised paper and exposed them to light. This experiment was closely linked to similar works by Lázló Moholy-Nagy, but Man Ray changed the combinations of materia forming irrational arrangements. 

Man Ray, who was born Emmaniel Radnitzky,  was influenced by the trauma of World War I and the emergence of a modern media culture, and took a deep interest in new developments in technology. He began his artistic career in the Dada movement but his experiments with photography led him to the emergent Surrealist movement in Paris, led by André Breton. He provided photographs to the three major Surrealist journals in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1922 he wrote that his ambition was to “make my photography automatic – to use my camera as I would a typewriter.” 

Man Ray worked in a wide range of media, including photography, painting, and sculpture, often blurring the boundaries between these practices. Obstruction, an assemblage of sixty-three wood coat hangers, is an example of a type of artwork that Dada artist Marcel Duchamp called a readymade, a term that suggests Man Ray’s appropriation and manipulation of pre-existing, common objects. The sculpture playfully mimics a chandelier, but, as the hangers seemingly divide and multiply, Obstruction quickly evolves into a dense tangle of overlapping forms. Cast shadows serve as distorted immaterial extensions of its physical presence. Man Ray first created Obstruction in 1920, but the present work belongs to an edition of fifteen reproductions he created in 1961 for the important exhibition of kinetic art ”Rörelse i konsten”
at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

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Fredrik Fellbom


Skulptur och grafik
Tel: 0707-51 81 31

Sofie Bexhed


Tel: 0705-22 61 62

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