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Wednesday, January 24, 2024


Le Violon d'Ingres, 1924 by Man Ray

The most expensive image ever sold at auction, Le Violon d'Ingres (1924) by Man Ray, which features a nude woman's back superimposed with a violin's f-holes, sold for $12.4 million on May 14th, 2022 at Christie's New York. 

 Man Ray was an American visual artist (1890-1976) who spent most of his career in Paris. He was a pioneer contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. 

 Man Ray (nee Emmanuel Radnitzky) was an admirer of the paintings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and made a series of photographs, inspired by Ingres's languorous nudes, of the model Kiki de Montarnasse (aka Alice Prin) in a turban. 

Painting the f-holes of a stringed instrument onto the photographic print and then rephotographing the print, Man Ray altered what was originally a classical nude. He also added the title Le Violon d'Ingres, a French idiom that means "hobby." One critic suggested “…while playing the violin was artist Ingres’s hobby, toying with model Kiki was a pastime of Man Ray.” C’est tellement comme les Francais. 

 The transformation of Kiki's body into a musical instrument with the crude addition of a few brushstrokes makes this a humorous image, but early critics offered that the composite maintains a tension between objectification and appreciation of the female form. Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin) Alice Ernestine Prin, nicknamed the Queen of Montparnasse and often known as Kiki de Montparnasse, was a French model, chanteuse, memoirist and painter during the Jazz Age. She flourished in, and helped define, the liberated culture of Paris in the so-called AnnĂ©es folles (avant garde). 

 The artwork is currently at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and is not currently on view. 


Man Ray

Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin)

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Example of an Ingres nude painting Le Violon d'Ingres (Ingres's Violin) 1924 Man Ray (American, 1890 - 1976) Not currently on view The Source by Ingres now in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. 

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