Cadeau (Série II)

Man Ray, Cadeau (Série II), 1970, metal: flat iron, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Juliet Man Ray, 1983.105.3
Copied Man Ray, Cadeau (Série II), 1970, metal: flat iron, 6 183 384 34 in. (15.48.712.2 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Juliet Man Ray, 1983.105.3

Artwork Details

Cadeau (Série II)
Not on view
6 183 384 34 in. (15.48.712.2 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Juliet Man Ray
Mediums Description
metal: flat iron
  • Object — other — appliance
Object Number

Artwork Description

The original Cadeau was made for Man Ray’s first Paris show in 1921. On the day of the opening, the artist passed a hardware store and bought a flatiron that he had seen in the window, along with a box of tacks and some glue. The iron, with the tacks fixed in a neat line along the smooth base, became a last-minute addition to the show. Cadeau was stolen almost as soon as the exhibition opened, but Man Ray calmly made another one. He produced many replicas of Cadeau throughout his career and even allowed galleries to make their own editions of the piece. Sexual violence was a popular theme within Dada and surrealism, and Man Ray transformed this household item into a strangely threatening “gift.” The sharp spikes add an element of danger to the domestic associations of the iron, creating an object that is only good for, as Man Ray said, “tearing a dress to ribbons.” In fact, he once used Cadeau to shred a piece of clothing, then asked one of his models to pose wearing the tattered remnants of fabric.