Man Ray is one the oddest figures to ever appear in the world of art. His work seems so inconsistent with itself that each piece of his could be by a different artist altogether. His name carries weight though and his role in the direction of art during the 20th century is key to the development of what we now call contemporary art. With the new Marianne Faithfull curated DLA Piper series comfortably installed in Tate Liverpool, the gallery space offers the viewer a chance to see one of Man Ray’s best known and most personal works for free.
Indestructible Object has that sense of aura around it similar to Dali’s Lobster Telephone or Duchamp’s infamous Urinal. All these items are a solid physical collage, mixing objects together to exaggerate the juxtaposition and perhaps even a build a relationship between the two so they intern raise discourse about each other.
Indestructible Object fits this ideology to the tee and is physical a metronome with the photo of an eye attached to its hand. The relationship between the artist and the person of the photograph is clearly a sad one, with the piece seeming to mourn the loss of relationship. The metronome’s lack of movement suggests a dead love and makes the piece feel surreal but emotionally charged at the same time.
With the metronome’s job to keep the pulse of time redundant, it seems that the piece is almost mocking the artist’s constant thoughts of the person in the photograph. There’s something almost masochistic about it, though the therapeutic aspect of creating the sculpture in the first place must have helped Man Ray at the time. This fits well with the theme of the exhibition as a whole but is easily the most powerful exponent of these ideas. With so many big pieces in the exhibit, a lesser piece of the same size would be swamped by the surrounding William Blakes and Francis Bacons. This is a piece of art that can hold its own and is immensely powerful for its quaint and quite charming size that almost asks the viewer to underestimate it.
Though the piece on show isn’t the original, this matters very little. The themes of the work dominate the space, belying its small size and proving that objects can sometimes say far more than words ever can.
Indestructible Object is now on display at the DLA Piper series: Innocence and Experience at Tate Liverpool. Entry is free.
Images from huma3.