Man Ray's surrealist works sold in dedicated Sotheby's auction

Sotheby's held an auction dedicated to the surrealist works of Man Ray on November 15 in Paris, headlined by his 1949 painting Much Ado About Nothing.

Much Ado About Nothing is an illustration of a mathematical equation

The work, named after the Shakespeare play and from an important series in Man Ray's career, was estimated at $93,975-125,301, but strong bids pushed the final price to $293,674 - a 134.3% increase.

The painting is part of Man Ray's Shakespearean Equations series, in which the artist illustrates mathematical equations through objects, naming them after Shakespeare's plays.

"I did not copy [the mathematical models] literally but composed a picture in each case, varying the proportions, adding color, ignoring the mathematical intent and introducing an irrelevant form sometimes, as a butterfly or the leg of a table," Man Ray wrote of the series.

"When about fifteen were completed, I gave the series the general title: Shakespearean Equations, and for individual identification the title of one of Shakespeare's plays, quite arbitrarily or the first that occurred to me. … Some saw a symbolical relation between the subject and the title."

As a leader of the Dada movement, Man Ray's creations rejected reason and embraced irrationality

The sale was a celebration of the artist's entire career, offering 270 lots spanning all media. Also starring was Ce que manque a nous tous, an iconic surrealist object displaying Man Ray's playful humour.

An ordinary clay pipe fitted with a blown glass bubble, the piece is a superb example of Man Ray's "Objects of My Affection", many of which are only known through photographs, having been lost over time.

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