Sea Shells, Galaxies, and Lampshades: Man Ray’s Spiral Obsession

Lampshade_installation shot with shadow

Lampshade, 1919 (editioned replica, 1964), Painted aluminum. Private collection, courtesy Fondazione Marconi, Milan


Nature, from the sea shell to the galaxy, is full of spirals. When I was a young man, I was already obsessed with this form; when working as a draughtsman I was fascinated by curves, spirals, parabolas, hyperbolas.”

 –Man Ray


In 1919, inspired by the chance discovery of an unraveled paper lampshade in the trash, Man Ray created Lampshade, one of the earliest manifestations of his obsession with the spiral. Like many of his other objects, this work continued to exist as a concept even after the original was lost, becoming better known through photographic translations and the 1939 painting Le Retour à la raison (Return to Reason). Man Ray made multiple replicas of Lampshade, including one featured in the 1944 exhibition Objects of My Affection.

650 shades of #InstaManRay

It’s only been about three weeks since Man Ray–Human Equations opened, but we’ve already received over 650 submissions from our in-gallery #InstaManRay interactive. Visitors to the exhibition have the opportunity to experience Man Ray’s artistic process by using social media app Instagram to photograph mathematical models and share their creations. Here’s just a sample of the inspired work.

Follow submissions throughout the exhibition via our Instagram account @InstaManRay2015 or #InstaManRay.


ArtGrams: The Rothko Room

Welcome to the first of our newest monthly blog series, ArtGrams, where we feature our favorite Instagrammed pictures taken around or inspired by the museum. We love seeing you create your own works of art using unique perspectives, strategic crops, and the funkiest filters.

Each month, we’ll feature a different theme based on trends we’ve seen in visitor photos; first up, The Rothko Room. The room’s bold colors and shapes have inspired these great shots. Be sure to hashtag your images with #PhillipsCollection or tag your location for a chance to be featured.

Rothko Room_1_allwegrow

Via Instagrammer @allwegrow: “We spent our 3 year anniversary visiting the Rothko Room”

Rothko Room_2_jamellita

via Instagrammer @jamellita: “American Living: ‘Luna and me in Rothko’s room’”

Rothko Room_3_mrscis

Via Instagrammer @mrscis: “Admiring the beauties of the centuries”

Rothko Room_4_pennykim

Via Instagrammer @pennykim

Rothko Room_5_pootie_ting

Via Instagrammer @pootie_ting: “Feeling Red. Rothko Red.”