The Enigma of Venus & Isidore Ducasse | Man Ray, 1920-37

Man Ray, Venus, 1937                                                            Man Ray, Venus Restauré, 1936

Like many other male Surrealist artists, Man Ray exalted love and saw Woman as an inspirational muse. In their art, however, these men tended to objectify women and define them as subordinate. As targets of male desire, women were the subjects of disturbing fantasies and erotic violence. In Venus Restored, a plaster cast of a headless Venus is tightly bound in ropes. Nevertheless, the image does not evoke total female submission. Man Ray’s “restoration” preserves the classical, eternally perfect sculpture, while expressing erotic fantasy, similar to that seen in his Undomesticated Virgin of 1964. 

Man Ray, The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse, 1920

The binding ropes of Venus Restored recall Man Ray’s earlier Enigma of Isidore Ducasse, 1920, 
a wrapped and tied sewing machine, paying homage to the dictum of the poet Lautréament:

“Beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table.”

 Isidore Ducasse (Comte de Lautréamont),  Les Chants de Maldoror ,1869

Man Ray, 1930


Anonymous said...

You are cold, while you yourself fan flames. By all means wrap yourself in your despotic furs, there is no one to whom they are more appropriate, cruel goddess of love and of beauty.

She had wrapped her marble-like body in a huge fur, and rolled herself up trembling like a cat.

Be then my slave, and know what it means to be delivered into the hands of a woman.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch / Venus in Furs / 1870


Anonymous said...

When man wanted to make a machine that would walk he created the wheel, which does not resemble a leg.

Guillaume Apollinaire

Desire followed the glance, pleasure followed desire.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject.

André Breton


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