What We All Lack (Ce qui manque à nous tous)
United States, 1890–1976
What We All Lack (Ce que manque à nous tous)
Blown glass, clay, and wood
Gift of the Lannan Foundation in Honor of the Pelham Family, 1997/1.129
Man Ray, born Emmanuel Radnitzky, was an American artist who made Paris his home. Best known for his avant-garde photography, Man Ray also produced major works in a variety of media and considered himself a painter first and foremost. He first conceived this piece in 1927 in the spirit of the Surrealist sculpture, in which objects were freed of their names and elevated from their status as mere cultural artifacts to that of art. Its title is derived from a quote by Friedrich Engels, one of the founding philosophers of communism, that was reproduced in capital letters on the cover of the December 1926 volume of the Surrealist group’s
magazine, La Révolution surréaliste. Engels said, “What these gentlemen lack is dialectic”; Man Ray clarified, “what we all lack is imagination.”
Man Ray did not explore the psychoanalytic roots of personal obsessions and fantasies like his contemporaries, who were profoundly affected by the ideas of Freud. His objects were not “objects of desire,” but rather, in his words, “objects of affection.” The lightheartedness of the artist’s message is conveyed both by the delicate, ephemeral bubble, and the whimsical act of blowing bubbles.
Playing with the meaning attached to the pipe, a staple of Dadaist and Surrealist conceptual art, Man Ray invites us to make a story that connects the objects, the pipe and the bubble, and the title, "What We All Lack."
A clear glass bubble rests on the bowl of a plain white clay pipe. Along the stem of the pipe are the words, "Ce que [sic] manque à nous tous."
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit https://umma.umich.edu/request-image/ for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.