Man RayNew York 1920, editioned replica 1973

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Artwork details

Man Ray (1890‑1976)
New York
Date 1920, editioned replica 1973
MediumGlass, steel, cork and linen tape
Dimensionsobject: 259 x 65 x 65 mm
Acquisition Presented by Lucien Treillard 2002


Like a number of Man Ray’s objects, New York has been known under several titles: Ball Bearings, Roulement Habile (or Easy Rolling), and Export Commodity. The original object – subsequently destroyed - was made in New York in 1920 and consisted of a jar of olives in oil, in which Man Ray had replaced the olives with steel balls. The jar was labelled ‘New York’, perhaps because the upright shape evoked a skyscraper in miniature. In any event, Man Ray chose to take the object with him to France in 1920, where he told a customs officer that the jar would give him the illusion of having something to eat, should he encounter hard times.

This was an early object, made during the height of Man Ray’s involvement in the New York dada movement. Its play with olives/ball bearings was a visual and material equivalent for the substitutions common in jokes and metaphors, and was an example of how a three-dimensional object could engage with a free play of ideas and associations, previously considered to be largely the province of words… (read more)

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