United States of America 1890 – France 1976
Pain peint [Blue bread: favourite food for bluebirds]
[Blue Bred: Favourite Food for Blue Birds. (cf. Schwartz p. 199) Pain Peint]
Description: Pain peint [Painted bread]
Creation Notes: replacement loaves made 1964 in plaster
Materials & Technique: sculptures, painted plaster `bread' and metal scales
Confusingly, a number of works by Man Ray are titled Pain peint ('painted bread'). The first, made in1 958 and consisting of a set of scales of the kind once common in grocery shops and carrying two blue loaves of bread, is in the Australian National Gallery. The loaves lie across both baskets, frustrating the scales' balance. A second version of the work was made in 1960 for Cordier and Ekstrom, New York, and carries three loaves in its panniers. The same title is also applied to single loaves of blue-coloured bread, which were made by Man Ray in small editions either in polyurethane or plaster as required.1
When Man Ray first made Pain peint in 1958 he used stale loaves of bread and simply covered them with blue paint. But according to Man Ray, 'mice ate through the paint and the stale baguette'.2 The loaves in the Australian National Gallery's work are replacements made in plaster in 1964 when the work was purchased by Arturo Schwarz. The first loaf is inscribed underneath 'PAIN PEINT 59 / lere serie replique 1/4' and the second loaf is inscribed 'pain peint / lere serie replique - 2/4'.
Because of the play on homophones in the French title, Man Ray did not want it literally translated for English catalogues or books. He therefore gave it the alternative English title Blue bred and a subtitle, 'Favourite food for blue birds'. According to Arturo Schwarz, Man Ray mentioned that Pain peint is also 'an onomatopoeic representation of the firemen's motor-horns'.3
Michael Lloyd & Michael Desmond European and American Paintings and Sculptures 1870-1970 in the Australian National Gallery 1992 p.142.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra