“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, before December 3, 1921, Libraire Six, Avenue de Lowendal, Paris

American ex-pat artist Man Ray, 31, is awfully chilly. He’s been working inside this gallery with no heat, getting everything ready for his first solo exhibit here in Paris. Ray has been offered this show by French writer Philippe Soupault, 24, who has recently opened this gallery inside his new bookshop, Librarie Six.

Philippe Soupault

Ray and his friend, French artist Marcel Duchamp, 34, are planning a big party for the private viewing on the 3rd of December. They are hiding all the paintings by filling the room with balloons which they will pop all at once with their lit cigarettes, yelling Hurrah!

For the catalogue, Ray includes this biographical note:

It’s no longer known where Mr. Ray was born. After a career as a coal merchant, millionaire several times over and chair of a chewing gum trust, he has decided to accept the invitation of the Dadaists to show his latest canvases in Paris.”

As Ray is working on hanging the exhibit, a little man, probably about 50 years old, looks at one of the paintings, and Ray mentions to him that he is really cold. The man takes Ray’s arm and, speaking to him in English, leads him out on to the street to the local café, where he orders them both “hot grogs.”

The man introduces himself to Ray as composer Erik Satie, 55, but starts speaking in French. Ray has to explain that he only speaks English. Satie says that it doesn’t matter. And orders more grogs.

As they walk out of the cafe, the two men pass a shop displaying a bunch of household tools. Ray picks up a flat iron and motions Satie to follow him into the store. Ray uses Satie as a translator so he can buy glue and a box of tacks.

When he returns to the gallery, Ray glues the tacks in a row to the bottom of the iron. He wants this to be a gift to his benefactor, Soupault, so he adds it to the exhibit and calls it The Gift.

Le Cadeau by Man Ray

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

At the end of February I will be talking about the Publication of Joyce’s Ulysses at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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