Lot 5
Lot Has Ended

MAN RAY (1890-1976)

The Oculist
Price Realised: USD 20000.00
Estimate : USD 15,000 - 25,000


MAN RAY (1890-1976)
The Oculist
signed, numbered and dated '6/12 Man Ray 1944/71' (on the side) and stamped and with the indistinct maker's mark 'GEM KT 18 MR 4' (on the reverse)
pendant/brooch with malachite
Length: 4 ¼ in. (10.7 cm.)
Conceived in 1944 and executed in 1971 in a numbered edition of twelve plus one artist's proof by GEM Montebello


Private collection, Italy, acquired from Gem Montebello in 1980, and thence by descent.


A. Schwarz, Man Ray The Rigour of Imagination, London, 1977, no. 240 (another example illustrated p. 143).
J. H. Martin, Man Ray Objets de mon affection, Paris, 1983, no. 87 (another example illustrated p. 83).


Boston, Institute of Contemporary Art, Jewelry As Sculpture As Jewelry, November - December 1973, no. 67 (another example exhibited and illustrated).

Lot Notes

As with other of his Surrealist and Dadaist contemporaries, Man Ray was a multidisciplinary artist who explored using many mediums, attracted by their new possibilities. Having become known for creating intriguingly surreal objects and photographs such as his famous Solarisations, Man Ray began a creative collaboration with the the highly-skilled Italian goldsmith and his good friend GianCarlo Montebello which extended throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Many pieces of jewellery they created were based on earlier sculptural designs by the artist and their collaboration resulted in some of the most imaginative artist-made jewellery produced during this period.

Man Ray used the medium of jewellery to further explore the artistic preoccupations of his career and the stunning craftsmanship of The Oculist exemplifies this. He only produced eight pieces of jewellery between 1970 and 1976, in editions of twelve, which often included variants. These were designed as wearable sculptures and were often created as personal gifts for friends and family. The Oculist existed in its original form as a Surrealist object, conceived and executed in 1944. It was assembled from a plank of wood, doweling, string and a broken plane of glass and was exhibited at Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1945, however was later destroyed. The present lot is a variation in design from the original 1944 example, created in striking gold and malachite, and can be worn as a brooch or pendant. The distinctive eye shape dominates the composition and, combined with the title of the work, infers an inspection of sight at once looking out and being looked at. The notion of sight, perception and interpretation, what may physically be seen, as opposed to what mentally be experienced and the associated complexities of altered states of mind, were key themes of Surrealism in line with investigations into the unconscious. The Oculist is a recurrent title in Man Ray's work, as is the motif of the eye, and the present piece not only exemplifies Man Ray's play with illusion and language, but is a beautiful example of a Surrealist work of art reincarnated into an imaginative and elegant jewel.

If you are the succesful bidder on this lot and intend to ship the item online check out will not be available.
A member of our client service team will contact you with shipping options after the sale closes or contact ArtasJewellery@christies.com for more information

Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.

The condition of lots can vary widely and the nature of the lots sold means that they are unlikely to be in a perfect condition. Lots are sold in the condition they are in at the time of sale.

A few fine surface scratches in places. Subject to the foregoing, it is our opinion that the work appears to be in generally very good condition.

Additional Charge Details

Additional charges, including buyer’s premium, value added, sales or compensating use tax or equivalent tax, any and all shipping expenses, including costs, packing and handling, any loss damage liability fees, customs duty, import tax, any local clearance fees applicable for your country and all other applicable charges will apply. In addition to the hammer price, the buyer agrees to pay to us the buyer’s premium together with any applicable value added tax, sales, or compensating use tax or equivalent tax in the place of sale.


Christie's is required to collect New York sales tax for any property purchased in this sale if (a) either you or your agent (including a contract carrier) collect the property in New York (even if New York is not the final destination) or (b) Christie's arranges shipment of the property into New York State. The amount of New York sales tax varies depending on the location of the shipment within New York State. We recommend that you obtain your own independent tax advice if you have further questions.

Lot Location and Collection

This lot ships from Christie's King Street or is available for collection at Christie's King Street. To collect the lot in person, please select “Pick Up” when completing your shipping information.

Payment Information

You must pay the full amount due (comprising the hammer price, buyer’s premium, any applicable value added, sales or compensating use tax or equivalent tax, any and all shipping expenses, including costs, packing and handling, any loss damage liability fees and all other applicable charges) no later than 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on November 18, 2017. This applies even if you wish to export the lot and an export license is, or may be, required. You will not acquire title and own the lot until all amounts due to Christie’s have been received by Christie’s in full, cleared funds. Purchases cannot be delivered to P.O. boxes.

Need Help? Email our Specialists or call +1 212 636 2002 with questions.